Prediction for the fight Nassurdin Imavov vs Kelvin Gastelum

Former 84kg interim title challenger Kelvin Gastelum has been out of the cage for almost a year and a half. Fights with representatives of the top lines of the rating led his career to a deplorable state, however, the battles that he arranged in the octagon allow him to still lead the events, and this time to open the new UFC fighting year.

At UFC Fight Night 217, Kelvin will be tied for the main event of the evening with Nassurdin Imavov, an up-and-coming prospect on a solid winning streak. Once again, the American will face a larger opponent, and how he performs on January 15 will determine his fate in the best MMA promotion in the world.

Nassurdin Imavov vs Kelvin Gastelum

Nassurdin Imavov

A native of Dagestan, living in France, occupies the 12th line of the UFC rating. This is a basic boxer who, after getting into the MMA Factory, mastered striking techniques in all its manifestations, and also showed himself great as a wrestler and grappler. In the professional arena, Imavov started at welterweight, then moved up to 84 kg, won the TFL title, returned again at 77, and then signed an agreement with the UFC.


Nassurdin prefers to disassemble the opposition on the stand, skillfully using his footwork and high pace of work. In addition to his hands, he superbly, and most importantly, on time, uses his knees and elbows, skillfully meeting opponents when they act in an attacking style, or presses them himself, and then transfers if they give him space in the cage. Ground and pound, along with an excellent arsenal of painful and choking, allow Imavov to finish the knocked out opponents by any available means. On top of all this, anthropometry is superimposed, because in the middle weight this guy is one of the largest.


A rather low percentage of successful transfers, as well as a frank unwillingness of a fighter to keep his hands at the jaw, going to the middle distance for an exchange of blows, are problems that he still needs to work on. There are also some questions about how he functions in the clinch, allowing opponents to seize the initiative there without any visible physical advantages. Yes, and in terms of the experience of fights with the TOP opposition, he still has gaps.

The current form and readiness of the fighter

Nassurdin is only 27 years old, he goes on a series of 3 victories, having 4 victories in 5 fights under the auspices of the UFC. Losing to Phil Hawes, he walked over the heads of Joaquin Buckley, Ian Heinisch and Edmen Shahbazyan. The athlete demonstrates an excellent level of learning, and his team removes flaws with amazing speed and meticulousness. Imavov feels great in fights for 3 rounds, and there is no doubt about his cardio, so in the next fight we are waiting for an even more perfect version of Nassurdin, with fresh developments from the gym.

Nassurdin Imavov vs Kelvin Gastelum

Kelvin Gastelum

The American is a California State Wrestling Champion (AIA Division 2), No. 5 in the US Collegiate Competition (NJCAA), and a fighter ranked among the strongest BJJ black belts on the Top10 Planet. Now Kelvin is ranked 13th in the UFC rankings, is the winner of the 17th season of the TUF reality show, and is also an ex-contender for the interim champion title in the 84 kg category. Gastelum has a number of prestigious awards for the best fights of the year, numerous bonuses for finishes, as well as the status of one of the most dangerous welterweight and middleweight punchers.


Despite the fact that Kelvin's base is wrestling, he showed himself best in the notches on his hands. Impressive knockout power, no fear of trades, real Mexican toughness and aggressive style allowed him to break through the opposition, despite all their superiority. In extreme cases, he took opponents to the floor, where he connected his crushing ground and pound.


Calvin's main problem, which he will not be able to cope with under any circumstances, is anthropometry. A dense physique does not allow him to go down to another division, and it is quite difficult for him to work on a par with opponents who are 10 centimeters or more taller, especially given the negative changes in the athlete’s physical form. Gastelum has not shown progress in technique for a long time, gradually losing speed, therefore, apart from a knockout punch and a strong jaw, it is hard for him to offer anything to his opponents.

The current form and readiness of the fighter

Calvin is 31 years old, and since 2019 he has won only 1 match out of 6, surpassing Ian Heinisch, and even that by decision. Losing to former champions Adesanya and Whittaker, which could be explained by the difference in levels, the American lost miserably to Hermansson, showed a faded performance with Darren Till, and then could not get past Jared Cannonier. Without a doubt - all these guys are real tops, having superiority in size, but in many ways, Calvin loses with such frequency precisely because of the limitations of the techniques used, although previously he was boldly attributed to the station wagons. Kev has tenacity and stamina, but without a change in approach to the game plan, he is unlikely to change the situation in his career.

Comparative analysis

Once again, Gastelum will face a huge gap in anthropometry: 15 cm in height and about 10 cm in arm span will definitely play into the hands of Imavov. In his last performance, Nassurdin passed the perfect preparation test before the fight with Kelvin - Buckley was also significantly shorter, loading heavily and pressing a lot. So, it will hardly surprise anyone if this meeting goes according to a similar scenario: the American will go forward, looking for the moment to inflict a decisive punch, and Imavov will circle around him on his light legs, firing back with counterattacks.

At the same time, Nassurdin's workrate will be higher, and Gastelum will have to solve the already “standard” tasks for him, which he failed to cope with in each of the 5 lost fights in recent years. Wrestling and clinches could be one solution, but working at the net with such a large opponent is another problem, and the Frenchman’s good takedown defense, and Kelvin’s not the highest percentage of successful transfers, are unlikely to allow him to develop success until both will be fresh.

We are talking about a 5-round fight, and here Gastelum's cast-iron head, along with his cardio, can still turn the tide in the championship segments. By the way, the same Joaquin Buckley brought his heavy slaps to Imavov's head, and this hoisted his stamina, so it is possible that this time he will make mistakes that will allow the Californian to gain momentum at the end of the meeting. But will such a theoretical superiority win him? Rather no than yes, because Nassurdin, due to footwork, jab and counterattacks, has every chance to score the required number of points at the start to slow down in the final.

Nassurdin Imavov vs Kelvin Gastelum Prediction

It's not the first time Kelvin has entered the octagon as an underdog, and that doesn't stop him from giving hard fights to almost all the top fighters, let alone the guys from the back of the rankings. But this time he's facing an opponent with a high fighting IQ, a very good team in the corner, and a colossal superiority in anthropometry. Besides, Imavov works much more varied than his eminent rival, so in terms of surprises each other, Nassurdin will definitely come out on top. Given Gastelum's impenetrability, he's unlikely to go to the mat after his punches are missed, and we can only talk about a duel on the ground if someone fails completely in the clinch. For this reason, it's worth looking at a protracted scenario of a fight that will definitely pass its equator (this can also be used for betting purposes), and the more likely winner of it, for me, is the French fighter. Install the 1xbet app and place a bet on the favorite!

Prediction: Nassurdin Imavov's victory

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