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Mike Dolce: Kelvin Gastelum 'could be the welterweight champion' if he gets weight issues sorted out

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

We may have seen the last of Kelvin Gastelum at welterweight. And that is a shame, according to Mike Dolce.

The MMA diet and nutrition guru, who has worked with Gastelum in the past, thinks that 170 pounds was an excellent weight class for the young star, he told Ariel Helwani on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. Middleweight, where Gastelum will be forced to go by the UFC, will present some problems, Dolce said.

Gastelum missed weight by nine pounds before his fight with Tyron Woodley at UFC 183 on Jan. 31. It was Gastelum's second time missing weight and he has struggled several other times to reach 171 pounds, the welterweight maximum. UFC president Dana White said after Gastelum's unanimous decision loss to Woodley that Gastelum would have to move up to 185.

Dolce thinks Gastelum, 23, should absolutely be a welterweight -- he just needs to clean up his diet when he's not in training camp.

"He could be the welterweight champion," Dolce said. "I've said before, if Kelvin gets his body fat down to 10 percent or so, which is perfect for combat athletes, 7 percent for competition, I think 170 is easy for him and I think he grows into a very dominant lightweight. Now, I'm not saying he should go there. I'm saying based upon his frame and based upon his body-fat ratio, that's not out of the realm of possible."

As for middleweight, Dolce isn't sure if Gastelum would be elite at 185 pounds against much larger opponents. Gastelum stands at just 5-foot-9. Dolce said he's similar in size to two of his other clients, Johny Hendricks and Thiago Alves, who fight at 170.

"You want to bring as many skills and attributes with you to competition and he's gonna be giving up a lot of his skill set when he goes up against the bigger guys," Dolce said.

Gastelum made weight working with Dolce before his submission win over Brian Melancon in August 2013. Since then, the two have not been able to get together. Last summer, Gastelum asked Dolce to work with him, but when Gastelum's coaches followed up weeks later Dolce was already booked through the fall. Dolce is very much interested in working with him again. The two have remained friends.

"I would love to work with him," Dolce said. "Why would I not work with a kid like Kelvin?

"I want to see him succeed. I want to see him make millions of dollars and take care of his family. I'm available. We've just gotta make sure the timing is right. But he's gotta be committed. This is a 52-week-a-year job."

Gastelum's coach Chance Farrar told MMAFighting.com that Gastelum had to be taken to the hospital hours before weigh-ins due to flu-like symptoms that returned during his cut. Farrar said it was the illness, not the weight cut, that made Gastelum miss by that much.

Dolce believes the two things were related and said that plenty of his fighters have gotten sick during weight cuts, including Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, who was "the sickest I've ever seen a human being" before one fight.

"A lot of athletes have flu-like symptoms while they're cutting weight," Dolce said. "A lot of athletes throw up while they're cutting weight. I've seen the worst of the worst.

"Sometimes as an athlete you just need to nut up, get out there and do your job."

Dolce wants to work with Gastelum again and thinks he has a bright future, as long as he's fully committed to working hard on his diet outside of the time when he has a fight coming up.

"Kelvin is a young kid," Dolce said. "And I understand, he's a young kid, he's got some things, he's got some money and I don't think he's surrounded by the healthiest people year-round. But he's a professional, he's gotta make professional decisions on his own."