UFC president Dana White said in the post-fight press conference, when asked about Gastelum possibly filling in for an overweight Yoel Romero, that Gastelum has “personal issues” that he needs to get sorted out. That’s why Gastelum could not replace Romero, if needed, in the main event title fight against Robert Whittaker, White said.
Gastelum told Luke Thomas on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour that he is unsure about what White was talking about that night in Chicago.
“I was dumbfounded,” Gastelum said. “Because I don’t know where those comments are coming from. I just figured he was upset over me not taking the fight a day-and-a-half before.”
Romero ended up fighting despite missing weight and the bout was declared a non-title contest. Whittaker won by a close split decision.
Gastelum, who is a top contender at middleweight, said he had been in negotiations with the UFC about being the back-up for the Whittaker-Romero fight, but things didn’t work out. Gastelum said when it didn’t come together, he went on vacation to Cancun.
“My manager was negotiating money to get from that,” Gastelum said. “I wasn’t gonna be doing it for free. That fell through. So they told me that’s not happening.”
Gastelum, 26, said he did get a call from the UFC on Wednesday of fight week about potentially replacing Romero. Officials apparently were already concerned Romero could miss weight or not make the fight. By then, though, Gastelum said the ship had sailed. He was drinking alcohol and eating in Mexico and not preparing for a bout. The California resident said he weighed about 200 to 205 pounds that day and would not have been able to get down to 185 in that short amount of time in a safe manner.
“I looked down at my belly and I’m like, ‘No, I don’t think I can do this in a day and a half,’” Gastelum said with a laugh. … “In a day and a half’s notice while I’ve been out drinking and eating, I probably would have been in the hospital if I would have tried that.”
Gastelum (15-3, 1 NC), who is coming off a split decision win over Ronaldo Souza at UFC 224, said he is now focused on getting a title shot against Whittaker. Although he did think Romero should have won on the judges’ scorecards against Whittaker, he’s glad it went the way it did.
“I thought Romero would have been getting the nod, but obviously he didn’t,” Gastelum said. “And selfishly I thought, I was hoping they’d give it to Whittaker. Just because Romero had missed weight, he wouldn’t have been getting the belt and then it just would have created this whole scenario where I’m definitely not getting the next shot. It just wouldn’t be a position where I would be fighting for a title any time soon.”
If the UFC called him now, Gastelum said he’d be ready when they need him. He said November at Madison Square Garden is the perfect timing for him, though Whittaker injured his hand in the Romero fight and is out for an undetermined amount of time.
Either way, Gastelum said he wants to chat with White about his post-UFC 225 comments and find out where he stands.
“I would love to sit down and see what those comments are about,” Gastelum said. “I just haven’t reached out to him about it. Eventually, I want to sit down with him and talk to him and meet with him and see what the future holds.”