The first 2023 Ultimate Fighting Championship event has finally come together at UFC Vegas 67. After several fights were canceled, the UFC organized a very intriguing 12-match event for January 14 at UFC Apex.
A middleweight bout between former interim UFC Middleweight Championship challenger and The Ultimate Fighter: Team Jones vs. Team Sonnen middleweight winner Kelvin Gastelum and Nassourdine Imavov headline the card. Fans can watch every fight on the card via ESPN+, with the preliminaries starting at 4 p.m. (ET) and the main card (7 p.m.).
Nassourdine Imavov vs. Kevin Gastelum – Middleweight
I expect this main event to be highly competitive as both fighters are ranked. Imavov
(12-3) enters the octagon at No. 12 in the class and Gastelum (17-8) at No. 13.
Imavov is 4-1 with the UFC, having won three straight fights. The 27-year-old Frenchman defeated Joaquin Buckley via unanimous decision the last time out on September 3.
Gastelum is just 10-8 with the UFC, having lost five of his last six bouts. The 31-year-old American has not fought since falling to Jared Cannonier via unanimous decision in August 2021.
Imavov, 26, is a young up-and-comer who has some nice wins. Conversely, Gastelum has lost a step and has struggled recently.
UFC Vegas 67 Pick: Imavov
Dan Ige vs. Damon Jackson, Featherweight
This featherweight bout is also very interesting. Ige (15-6), ranked No. 13 in the division, has lost three straight and four of five fights after starting his UFC career with a 6-1 record. Jackson (22-4-1) has won four straight and five of six with the promotion following a knockout victory over Pat Sabatini on September 17.
UFC Vegas 67 Pick: Jackson
Punahele Soriano vs. Roman Kopylov, Middleweight
This middleweight battle could be explosive as both competitors are known for their hard-hitting. Soriano (9-2) snapped a two-fight losing streak by stopping Dalcha Lungiambula 28 seconds in the second round for a KO/TKO victory on July 16, improving to 3-2 as a member of the UFC. Kopylov (9-2) also ended a two-fight losing streak with a third-round knockout victory over Alessio Di Chirico for his first win in three bouts with the promotion.
UFC Vegas 67 Pick: Soriano
Ketlen Vieira vs. Raquel Pennington, Bantamweight
This women’s bout may be the fight of the night. Both combatants are in good form and ranked in the top five of the division.
Vieira (13-2) enters the octagon with a 13-2 career record, including going 7-2 in the UFC. The 31-year-old Brazilian has picked up victories in the last two outings via decisions against Miesha Tate and Holly Holms. Seven of her fights in the promotion have gone the distance, including the previous two, which were five-rounders.
Pennington (14-9) has won the last four times she entered the octagon and is 10-5 with the UFC. The 34-year-old Coloradan defeated Aspen Ladd via a unanimous decision in April. Pennington holds several women’s bantamweight records.
UFC Vegas 67 Pick: Pennington
Umar Nurmagomedov vs. Raoni Barcelos, Bantamweight
Can Nurmagomedov remain undefeated? Nurmagomedev (15-0) improved to 3-0 in the UFC with a unanimous decision over Nate Maness on June 25. Barcelos (17-3) defeated Trevin Jones on October 1 to snap a two-fight losing skid and improve to 5-2 with the UFC.
UFC Vegas 67 Pick: Nurmagomedov
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