Number twelve in the middleweight challengers rating, Nassourdine Imavov can be one of the headliners of UFC Paris this Saturday, the first occasion in France in the historical past of the nice MMA group (reside on RMC Sport 2). Portrait of the French fighter from Dagestan who doesn’t current the similar profile as the wrestling specialists of his fatherland.
There are behaviors that appear like declarations of intent. When Nassurdin Imavov and his older brother Daguir pushed the door of the MMA Factory, Fernand Lopez found leech-like staff in the room. A coaching? Not sufficient. The Imavov siblings squat all potential classes. From morning to night. With one aim in thoughts, the one swung by Nassourdine to the coach identified for his work with Francis Ngannou and Ciryl Gane: “I want to be an MMA pro, a champion, and join the UFC”.
The ambition has develop into actuality. A number of years later, the “Sniper” seems in twelfth place in the UFC rating of middleweight challengers and can be one of the headliners of UFC Paris, the first occasion in our nation in the historical past of the nice group of MMA. Proud and impatient. “We’ve been ready for this for months! Of course I can not wait.
Facing the spectacular Joaquin Buckley, writer of the 2020 UFC KO of the Year with a return kick that has develop into legendary, Imavov may have the alternative to present the extent of his expertise in what he enjoys the most. in a cage: the putting, perceive standing fight. Almost an antinomy when its origins. Nassourdine Imavov was born in Daghestan, a federated Russian republic identified to be a manufacturing unit for high-level wrestlers. The nation’s greatest consultant in the UFC, Khabib Nurmagomedov, shone his total profession by smothering opponents on the floor along with his battle.
Islam Makhachev, his designated successor, now coached by Khabib and who will face Charles Oliveira for the light-weight belt at the finish of October in Abu Dhabi at UFC 281, presents an analogous type even when there are variations. Imavov comes from the similar space. But he was not fashioned in the similar mould. Nassourdine started fight sports activities with boxing shortly after arriving in France along with his dad and mom, heading to Marseille then Salon-de-Provence the place he spent his adolescence. “I was sent to boxing at the age of ten. It educated me a lot.”
He had all the similar teased about the struggle in Daghestan, custom obliges. Like kids taking part in marbles elsewhere. “Fighting over there is cultural. You go to school and then you go to sport. The man must be strong mentally as well as physically. Combat sports make you strong. When I lived in Dagestan, if my father’s friend came home with his kid and we were the same age, I already knew it was going to go to wrestling. I was already warming up in my room next door. There’s the dad watching and it’s like a competition.”
The noble artwork permits him to strategy the factor in a extra structured method. But the boy will uncover even higher: MMA, this self-discipline the place we combine all the martial arts. “Boxing had gotten me a little bit drunk, working my arms many times daily. I wished to change and after I noticed that, I bought hooked straight away. Imavov has discovered his calling. The one that may lead him to the UFC. ‘Since I used to be little, I like to struggle, he smiles. So to have the opportunity to do it inside a framework with guidelines…” To live his story without regret, Nassourdine made a strong choice. At nineteen, he went to Paris – where he had never been – with his older brother, on the shoulder, without knowing anyone or knowing where to sleep. “If I wished to achieve MMA, I knew that is the place I had to go”, he explained in 2021.
He is aware of precisely the place. Fernand Lopez’s MMA Factory. “No one knew who I used to be or what I used to be value. I had to show myself, present what I had in my abdomen.” The answers will come quickly. The potential is there, obvious. It remains to exploit it. A month before his twenties, in February 2016, he passed the test for his first professional fight at 100% Fight in Paris. A defeat in pankration – a kind of MMA without ground strikes, which could be done in France before the legalization of MMA in the spring of 2020 – which does not affect his will.
Five straight victories between November 2017 and December 2019, including one for the Thunderstrike Fight League welterweight belt and a first-round victory over former UFC welterweight Jonathan Meunier at ARES 1, will open the doors to the biggest organization. in the world. Eyes full of stars. “When I bought my first contract in the UFC, I bought an all-nighter. I used to be tremendous excited. My desires had been coming true.” He began his UFC run with a unanimous decision victory over Jordan Williams in October 2020.
A few months later, he finds himself on the wrong side of the decision (majority) of a badly started fight for a defeat against Phil Hawes. Stoppage? “It did not cease me from shifting ahead. Today, I’m twelfth in the middleweight challenger rankings. And the one that beat me may be very far behind. That was the aim: both I do rematch and I win, or I move him a lot in the rankings that there is no doubt I’m higher.” Two more wins follow, over Ian Heinisch and especially Edmen Shahbazyana former big hope in the discipline then ranked among the means that he finished by TKO in the second round at UFC 268 in November 2021 in the setting of the legendary Madison Square Garden in New York.
The doors of the big world are opening little by little in front of him and he is calling for “somebody from the prime 5”. Last April, at UFC 273, he should face Kelvin Gastelum, former opponent of future champion Israel Adesanya for the interim middleweight title. But a passport renewed too late deprives him of a visa and prevents him from being able to honor the appointment. He then hopes for a excessive ranked opponent for Paris. But troublesome to discover between the fighters already busy and those that refuse the danger given his potential as they’ve extra to lose than to achieve towards him.
“It’s no coincidence that Marvin Vettori or Derek Brunson (numbers 3 and 4 in the middleweight challengers rating, editor’s notice) refused the struggle, explains Fernand Lopez, his coach and his supervisor. They mentioned: ‘I do not don’t desire it now’. Nassourdine is subsequently obliged to go and discover somebody behind him.” To be on the program for the first UFC card in France, an event he didn’t want to miss, he agreed to take on an unclassified opponent: Joaquin Buckey. Who also allowed himself to chamber him on social networks. Not necessarily a good idea when you hear him telling himself: “I’m very good, however I’ve one other very imply and really violent facet”.
After ten months without a fight, this Imavov titillated by Buckley is boiling hot. “The extra he goes past the limits, the extra my violent and nasty facet dangers being at its most for the struggle. Out of respect for my opponents, I say nothing, however as he talks loads, I might say victory at the finish of the second spherical. , by KO, TKO or submission. It’s going to be performed in putting, a pure struggle of feet-fists. He will need to come into me as a result of he’s small in measurement and he’s a tricky fighter, who doesn’t have scared of hits and shifting ahead all the time. We count on him to pounce on us from the begin and we have now ready a very good protection to counter him effectively.”
If all goes well in Paris, then it will be time to look forward. “I have already got a reputation in thoughts to problem after my victory however I maintain it in shock. After this struggle, we’ll actually purpose forward. We made an exception as a result of it’s Paris, at house, however we’ll strive to purpose for somebody in the prime 5 or prime 10.” On the way to the heights and the belt. “I’m not in my place. The aim is to be first, champion!” “He could be the future UFC champion, believes Fellow UFC fighter Taylor Lapilus (not on Paris card due to injury) of the MMA Factory and RMC Sport advisor. He continues to be younger, I actually see him reaching the prime and being a champion. He has horrible putting, wrestling and floor that’s always bettering.”
With a very needy side that does not spoil anything. “He’s probably the largest employee in the room,” confirms Lapilus. “Nassourdine is an issue for anybody, provides Fernand Lopez. He has the potential to sit on the throne of his class. He has one thing improbable, he’s extraordinarily harmful.” Standing, therefore, which is not so bad when you know that the spectacular fights always please the UFC, but also on the ground if necessary. “Style is essential. Your method of preventing has to be fairly to see. Striking is what provides the present. But the day when you’ve got to present the struggle, I’ll be there. We maintain in reserve.” Dagestani blood runs effectively in Nassourdin Imavov’s veins.