LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 24: Nassourdine Imavov of Russia reacts after his victory over Ian Heinisch in their middleweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on July 24, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Nassourdine Imavov is the newest product of the MMA factory in France under Fernand Lopez. The Dagestani-born Frenchman made his UFC debut in 2020 and has amassed a record of 3-1 since. He will have his biggest step up in competition in Joaquin Buckley (5-2 in the UFC) this Saturday when he fights him in home territory at UFC Paris.

For Buckley, a win over Imavov would put him at four wins in a row, leading to potential contendership talks and a spot in the top 15. Imavov currently sits at and will possibly be putting his #12 ranking on the line.

Betting Odds

Joaquin Buckley will be the underdog against the ranked fighter in Imavov. A $100 bet placed on the American looks to return a profit of $198 if the upset occurs.

Fight Breakdown

Joaquin Buckley has both an extremely exciting style and one that is absolutely fascinating. He has an extremely good blend of traditional martial arts technique which whip out of nowhere behind his low peekaboo boxing style. The latter version of him is what you would expect if you saw him. He is a shorter, stockier build with devastating knockout punches, which is why he gets away with dipping and rolling in before landing big shots that come from underneath his opponent’s vision. His explosiveness is a massive factor as to why he can get in so quickly and cause damage before exiting quickly.

He is also particularly good at mixing in his hooks to the body once he does get in so as to avoid becoming predictable. He sets precedent to fear his entries which is when his skills from the outside become more apparent with good taekwondo and karate style kicks from range including good lead sidekicks. In terms of his grappling ability, he has come a long way with his offensive wrestling. He has a great power double leg, which like his striking comes from a low-cocked stance that allows him to slip underneath shots and time the entry low. He also likes to get underhooks and hunt the backside trip. While his top game is good, his control is something that has developed at a slower rate than his actual takedown ability, and even further from then, his defensive grappling is the largest hole in his game that he is surely looking to fill in camp for Imavov.

While Imavov is a striker by trade, with a background in boxing as a child and training with the likes of Cyril Gane at the MMA Factory, he is exceptionally well rounded. As a striker, he is calm and relaxed as can be, and it is this looseness that makes him so much faster than he seems. He is light on his feet, sometimes adopting a sideways bouncing stance, but his goal is to land the right straight. He has multiple great setups, including a sleeping left hook that breaks through the guard, but the consistency is in his ability to always create the angle before committing. When he is pushing his opponent to the fence, he loves to feint straight and find that angle by stepping off right.

Grappling wise he does not have the explosive takedowns of Buckley, but on top and in terms of submissions, he is very smooth in his transitions. He will chain and adapt his submissions a step before his opponent defends, and likewise he maintains top position by chaining positions together very early. He is an extremely proactive grappler. The one knock on him, although it has been absent for two fights, was that he does have some difficulty being trapped along the fence in a clinch. His elbows off the clinch are very dangerous but until then the time he spends stuck there could be worrying for him, especially against a stocky fighter like Buckley who may have a head position advantage.

A major factor in this fight will be how the two men spend their cardio budget. Many of Buckley’s opponents in the past have come in with the idea to put it on him early in order to take away that explosive power late. Expect Immaov to keep composed and consistent in his output in order to do this, but the more he keeps on him the more opportunities Buckley has to land that key strike. For Buckley, he is going to want to attack in bursts but utilize his clinch at points to slow down the pressure of Imavov and recover before resetting and attacking again.


I believe the well-roundedness, output, and comfortability of Imavov will win the fight for him. While both men will have technical success in every facet of the fight, I think the constant striking to grappling and volume will sap Buckley quicker than Imavov, who will come on stronger the longer the fight goes

Prediction: Nassourdine Imavov to win (-263 odds at MyBookie)

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