While middleweight champion Robert Whittaker was recovering from emergency surgery for an intestinal hernia and a “twisted and collapsed” bowel, challenger Kelvin Gastelum was busy turning full heel.
Gastelum trolled fans and fighters alike Sunday at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia, during UFC 234 with the new version of the UFC championship belt draped from his shoulder.
According to UFC president Dana White in his post-UFC 234 news conference, Gastelum had borrowed flyweight champion Henry Cejudo’s title belt. Gastelum even gave interviews claiming to be the new middleweight champ since Whittaker failed to show up for their title fight.
“This is my belt,” Gastelum said. “I earned this. I showed up, traveled thousands and thousands of miles from home, made the weight. In my world, the wrestling world, if the guy shows up and makes the weight, for some reason cancels the bout, the guy forfeits the match. I win. I am the champion.”
Folks were not having it, to say the least. Conor McGregor and others showed their displeasure via Twitter:
Why is that worm holding the 185lb belt? There are worms crawling on his skin! It was absolutely ludicrous to even consider allowing him to compete. Let alone now walk around the arena shaking our fans hands.
Someone sort this, this instant. And sterilize that belt.
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) February 10, 2019
— Gerald Meerschaert (@The_Real_GM3) February 10, 2019
If Gastelum just grabbed Cejudo’s belt and is walking around calling himself the champion without at least even fighting in an interim title fight then it’s very embarrassing for him. https://t.co/ZRHdgx73WN
— Mark Gottlieb (@MarkGottliebFOX) February 10, 2019
Did Kelvin Gastelum borrow Cejudo's belt or buy a new one at the UFC store? Either way, great stuff here from the middleweight challeng… I mean, middleweight champ? https://t.co/uSH81EJyW3
— Guilherme Cruz (@guicruzzz) February 10, 2019
I hope tonight Adesanya or Silva leap from the cage, take the fake belt from Gastelum and run around the arena with it as Cejudo chases behind because it's actually his
— Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful.com (@SeanRossSapp) February 10, 2019
If I'm Gastelum, I'm probably giving that belt back to Cejudo at this point and leaving the arena.
— Trent Reinsmith (@TrentReinsmith) February 10, 2019
— JΛKE BUCKLEY 🇦🇺 (@TheMasterBucks) February 10, 2019
I see a buncha folks pissed off with the belt video, but I kinda like Colby Gastelum. #UFC234
— Stephie Haynes (@CrooklynMMA) February 10, 2019
White, for his part, was unimpressed with Gastelum’s display:
— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) February 11, 2019
More from Yahoo Sports:
• Bumgarner ‘walking right out’ if Giants use an opener
• Zion draws comparisons to LeBron in win at Virginia
• Anderson Silva impresses in loss to unbeaten wunderkind
• Forde: 5 takeaways from NCAA tourney seeding reveal