Middleweight contenders Kelvin Gastelum and Nassourdine Imavov are set to collide at UFC 273 on April 9.
In the latest of a string of additions to 2022’s fourth pay-per-view card, former interim title challenger Gastelum and rising Frenchman Imavov will clash with a place in the 185-pound top 10 on the line, per ESPN MMA’s Brett Okamoto.
In his first appearance of 2022, Gastelum will be in desperate need of a rebound win. Since a Fight of the Year interim championship fight with Israel Adesanya in 2019, The Ultimate Fighter 17 winner has struggled for form and consistency.
Defeats to Darren Till, Jack Hermansson, Robert Whittaker, and Jared Cannonier since UFC 236 have left Gastelum with a 1-5 record in his last six Octagon outings. His sole victory in that period came against the unranked Ian Heinisch last February.
Imavov, meanwhile, is going in the opposite direction on the middleweight ladder. Whilst his upcoming opponent has slipped to #10 in the rankings, the Dagestan-born French fighter has risen into the top 15 thanks to back-to-back wins against Heinisch and Edmen Shahbzayan.
Against “The Golden Boy” at UFC 268 last November, the “Russian Sniper” established himself as a contender with a brutal TKO from the crucifix position.
On April 9, Gastelum will be looking to return the win column and begin his ascent back to the top. Despite his veteran status in the promotion, the Californian is still only 30 and has plenty of time to resurrect his ambitions in the UFC.
For Imavov, who is five years Gastelum’s younger, this matchup represents the chance for him to break into the middleweight top 10 and take a big step further towards title contention, something the MMA Factory product will hope to welcome in with open arms at UFC 273.
Listed below are the fights expected to take place at UFC 273:
Alexander Volkanovski (C) vs. The Korean Zombie (featherweight title fight)
Kelvin Gastelum vs. Nassourdine Imavov (middleweight)
Mackenzie Dern vs. Tecia Torres (women’s strawweight)
Mickey Gall vs. Mike Malott (welterweight)
Irene Aldana vs. Aspen Ladd (women’s bantamweight)
Pat Sabatini vs. Gavin Tucker (featherweight)
Who do you think will have their hand raised at UFC 273, Kelvin Gastelum or Nassourdine Imavov?