The UFC already has its first headlining bout of next year booked.
Perennial UFC middleweight contender Kelvin Gastelum will take on up-and-comer Nassourdine Imavov in the main event of UFC Fight Night on Jan. 14, sources confirmed to ESPN on Wednesday. The card is likely to take place at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The news was first reported by the French MMA podcast La Sueur.
Gastelum vs. Imavov was first booked for UFC 273 back in April, but Imavov was forced out by visa issues.
Gastelum (16-8, 1 NC) has lost five of his past six fights, but all came against the top tier of the UFC’s middleweight division. The California native fought for the interim UFC middleweight title in 2019, an ESPN Fight of the Year loss to Israel Adesanya. Gastelum, 30, won The Ultimate Fighter 17 in 2013 and has been one of the toughest opponents yet for Adesanya, who is undefeated at 185 pounds.
Imavov (12-3) has won three straight, most recently a unanimous decision win earlier this month against Joaquin Buckley. The Dagestan-born fighter, who trains under coach Fernand Lopez at MMA Factory in Paris, has won four of his first five fights in the UFC overall. Imavov, 26, is one of the main training partners of former UFC interim heavyweight champion Ciryl Gane.