Former interim UFC middleweight title challenger, Kelvin Gastelum will remain on next weekend’s UFC 273 card after all, with South African finisher, Dricus Du Plessis replacing Nassourdine Imavov and clashing with the San Jose native at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena. 

Kelvin Gastelum was initially booked to meet with the #11 ranked middleweight, Imavov at UFC 273 on April 9. – however, the UFC last night confirmed that the latter had been forced from the main card opener against Gastelum due to issues securing his visa in time for the event. 

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As a result, the search began to find Gastelum a short-notice replacement for the card, with ESPN MMA reporter, Brett Okamoto initially reporting that former EMC middleweight kingpin, Du Plessis had booked a third Octagon outing, tackling Gastelum in a reworked matchup.

Riding a two-fight losing run in a vein of form which has seen Kelvin Gastelum suffer five losses in six most recent Octagon outings, the Kings MMA staple has been sidelined since suffering a unanimous decision loss against incoming title challenger, Jared Cannonier back in August in the main event of UFC Vegas 34.

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His most recent win came opposite Ian Heinisch in February of last year – which snapped a three-fight losing skid, however, Gastelum would then drop an April unanimous decision defeat to former undisputed middleweight kingpin, Robert Whittaker.

Kelvin Gastelum scooped The Ultimate Fighter 17 tournament win in 2013

For Du Plessis, the renowned finisher landed in the Octagon back in October 2020, stopping now-promotional alum, Markus Perez with first round strikes, before finding himself on the high-profile UFC 264 card back in July of last year.

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Du Plessis would score a reworked pairing with Trevin Giles, scoring a second round knockout before he saw scheduled outings opposite both Andre Muniz, and Chris Curtis fall to the wayside. Du Plessis was booked to feature against Anthony Hernandez at UFC 273, however, will now draw the #10 ranked contender, Gastelum instead.

Aspiring mixed martial arts reporter based in Ireland. Follow along at @Ross_Markey on Twitter for all the latest news, fight announcements, opinion, and feature pieces.