Taking place as the first UFC event of the new year, UFC Vegas 67, aka UFC Fight Night: Imavov vs. Gastelum, should be an excellent showcase for the promotion’s middleweight division. In this event, a middleweight contest between former interim UFC Middleweight Champion challenger Kelvin Gastelum and the 12-3 Nassourdine Imavov is the expected headliner for the evening. Per sources, this matchup was supposed to have taken place at UFC 273 but was called off due to visa issues with the latter. The winner of The Ultimate Fighter: Team Jones vs. Team Sonnen, Gastelum, is looking to make his ascent back up the rankings with a win here.
In this report, SBS will be going over what to look for from each fighter, the predicted winner in the main event bout, and also some more notes about UFC wagering.
Fighter Spotlight: Nassourdine Imavov
Known as the “Russian Sniper,” Imavo is looking to make his way up the middleweight charts and has his sights set on knocking off Gastelum. A combatant with an overall record of 12-3, the 27-year-old is currently riding a three-fight winning streak, including a strong unanimous decision victory over Joaquin Buckley in September of 2022. Since entering the UFC back in October 2020, Imavov has compiled a record of 4-1 and has also put together two TKO wins to his credit. A fighter that stands at a menacing 6-foot-3, the French orthodox striker is one to watch in the division.
As of December 2022, Imavov is ranked as the No. 12 fighter in the UFC middleweight rankings but has a chance to fire up the charts with a big win in Vegas. Prior to his time with the UFC, the French fighter was riding a five-bout winning streak before his UFC debut. This included him picking up the Thunderstrike Fight League Welterweight Championship and also dispatching UFC welterweight Jonathan Meunier at ARES FC 1.
Fighter Spotlight: Kelvin Gastelum
A former challenger for the UFC middleweight crown and the winner of The Ultimate Fighter 17, Gastelum is looking for a big comeback to the top of the UFC middleweight rankings. This will be the 31-year-old’s first fight since 2021 and a chance for the veteran to shake off his last two defeats. In his last two outings, Gastelum fell by unanimous decision to both Jared Cannonier and also Robert Whittaker (a Fight of the Night honoree). Prior to that, though, he was able to get past Ian Heinisch at UFC 258 in a unanimous decision fashion which had stopped his own three-fight losing streak.
While the veteran has fallen on some harder times as of late, he is still not far removed from challenging for the Middleweight crown back in April of 2019 vs. Israel Adesanya. In that fight, the two men brawled in a classic match that saw many publications dub it the Fight of the Year. Though Gastelum came up short in that contest, he still has scored victories over the likes of Ronaldo Souza, Michael Bisping, and Tim Kennedy in the past. However, he would certainly like to avoid dropping another bout if he wants to get his career back on the right track.
Prediction: In what should be a solid middleweight battle, Imavov has the slight edge here, given his more consistent success as of late and lack of ring rust.
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