The Ultimate Fighter
With the rapid evolution of MMA, it's common to see fights between athletes with considerable age differences, and the main event at UFC Fortaleza features veteran Vitor Belfort and rising star Kelvin Gastelum in a main event pitting experience vs. potential.
On one side: the former light heavyweight champion, who recently celebrated 20 years since his UFC debut. On the other: a young man who exemplifies promise. Fourteen years separate their births, and 12 years stand between their MMA debuts.
But will experience be a decisive factor in this confrontation? For Belfort, the answer is a resounding yes.
"The experience is very decisive, and that will be on my side,” Belfort said, enjoying the calm before the fight. "I've done that a lot, and it's all part of our work."
There are similarities between the athletes, especially when you consider the public began following their evolutions as fighters from a very young age. Belfort became the UFC heavyweight tournament champion at 19, and Gastelum won the 17th edition of The Ultimate Fighter at the age of 21.
But Gastelum, now 25, says he is still far from his peak as a professional, and stresses that this is not a bad thing.
"I won the Ultimate Fighter at 21. I was a little kid,” he said. "I'm still pretty young, but my mentality has grown. I've matured, I've grown and I've learned a lot in these four years that I've been in the UFC. I'm excited for the future, because I know how much growth there is left."
So far, Gastelum’s time in Brazil has been a lot of fun — so much so, he is already hoping to fight at UFC 212, in Rio de Janeiro.
"I want to see if I can come back and fight in Brazil later this year,” Gastelum said excitedly. "I want to fight in Rio, I like Rio. I've never been there, but I want to."
Certainly, in the minds of Brazilians, he will be welcome.
Jessica Portasio is a digital journalist for UFC.com.br. You can follow her on Twitter @Jeportasio