The UFC has finalized a banger of a middleweight matchup for their April PPV. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto was the first to report yesterday that the promotion has finalized a matchup between former title challenger and Ultimate Fighter winner Kelvin Gastelum (17-8) and surging contender Nassourdine Imavov (11-3).
The matchup will take place at UFC 273 on April 3rd. This is a huge opportunity for Imavov who will be looking for his third straight win. Last time we saw Imavov was back at UFC 268 when he took on Edmen Shahbazyan. Imavov looked sensational on his way to getting a second round stoppage.
Prior to that, Imavov stopped Ian Heinisch. So far, he’s 3-1 in the UFC with the lone loss coming against Phil Hawes by majority decision. Currently, he’s ranked 12th in the UFC’s middleweight division and he looks poised to break into the top ten. However, it’s not going to be an easy task.
UFC turnaround for Gastelum?
If there’s one man who needs to turn his career around it’s Kelvin Gastelum. Just a couple of years ago, Gastelum looked like he was destined to become a UFC champion. He surged towards the top of the division and earned a shot at the middleweight crown when Robert Whittaker was champion.
However, Whittaker had to pull out and instead, Gastelum fought Israel Adesanya for the interim title at UFC 236. Gastelum pushed Adesanya harder than anyone else has in the octagon. However, it wasn’t enough and Gastelum came up short.
Starting with the loss against Izzy, Gastelum is just 1-5 in his last six fights. One has to wonder what the future holds for this once promising contender. Granted, all of the losses he’s had have come against some of the very best that the UFC has to offer at 185 pounds.
Currently, he’s on a two-fight losing streak. In his last fight, he lost a close decision against Jared Cannonier. Now, he has a big fight with Imavov. If he can’t beat this young contender, Gastelum needs to take a deep look at his career. Perhaps it might be time to move back to 170.
Either way, UFC 273 should tell us a lot about Kelvin Gastelum’s future.