EXCLUSIVE | Nassourdine Imavov Eyes 185lb Top Five After Edmen Shahbazyan

Nassourdine Imavov 

Nassourdine Imavov believes an impressive win over Edmen Shahbazyan on November 6 at UFC 268 will catapult him into middleweight title contention.

‘The Russian Sniper’ picked up the biggest victory of his career last time out when he stopped Ian Heinisch inside two rounds at UFC Vegas 32.

Imavov was quickly booked in another big fight, this time against Shahbazyan who despite his two-fight losing streak remains one of the most exciting prospects at 185lbs.

In a recent interview with LowKickMMA, the 26-year-old revealed that he and his team have already identified weaknesses in Shahbazyan’s game that can be exploited at UFC 268.

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“We already have the game plan on the paper,” Imavov said via his translator Fernand Lopez. “We know what we’re going to do and, we are working to try to bring him to [a true] MMA fight. I’m not going to go there and [just] try to look for a striking [match], or for a wrestling [match], or for a grappling [match]. What I will do is bring him into [an] MMA [fight] and, we think that we know a couple of his weaknesses that we will exploit.”

Nine of Shahbazyan’s 11 wins have come by knockout, but Imavov hinted that his plan is to exchange striking techniques with Ronda Rousey’s prodigy.

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“I’m mostly [striking] because I’m a showman, I’m an actual man. I want the fans to be satisfied with the show,” Imavov said. “I will bring the heat on the feet anyway because he’s a good striker. I’m a good one [striker]. And I’m looking to win the fight, but also I want to put on a good show so I can be noticed and get rewarded by fighting a better fighter every time.”

If the fight goes as planned, Imavov expects to be recognized as a true contender at middleweight. He predicts his next bout will come against somebody ranked in the top five.

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“It always depends on how the fight ends, how the fight goes, you know, with the style of the fight. But I believe that after the fight people [will] start to really talk about me as a contender,” Imavov said. “I really believe that after that fight, if I sent a good message, as I intend to do, I will be challenging the top five guy. And probably I will be in the running [winning] for the next year for a [a shot at the] strap. I will be trying to be in the [title] discussion.”

How do you think Nassourdine Imavov vs. Edmen Shahbazyan will play out?