Nassourdine Imavov was clearly fired up fighting in front of a home audience at UFC Paris as he put on a complete performance to beat Joaquin Buckley by unanimous decision.
Some bad blood between the middleweights saw a few nasty exchanges but Imavov displayed superior striking and grappling while also staving off a late comeback attempt to walk away with the victory. The judges scored the fight 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27 with Imavov picking up his third consecutive win in a row.
“There was a lot of expectations coming on this fight but I wouldn’t have been able to do this without the crowd,” Imavov said. “I’ve got to say it was surprising. He’s a warrior. I wanted to fight a warrior and he didn’t give anything up.”
With a massive size and reach advantage, Imavov was looking to just walk Buckley down as he marched him across the cage while looking to set up his strikes. Imavov didn’t seem to have much regard for Buckley’s power as he quickly ducked and dodged his punches before firing back with some shots of his own including a lightning quick front kick that sent his opponent’s mouth piece flying.
When Buckley made an ill-fated attempt at a takedown, Imavov shrugged him off, moved into the mount and began raining down elbows until the horn sounded to end the opening round.
Imavov was showing incredible confidence in the exchanges as Buckley did everything possible to close the distance so he could finally connect his fist to the chin. Midway through the second round, Imavov abandoned his striking and instead went to his wrestling as he dragged Buckley to the ground and began fishing for submissions.
As he battled for a submission, Imavov was also launching elbows at Buckley that led to at least one of those shots causing blood to come pouring out of the American’s mouth.
Knowing that he was down two rounds, Buckley came out from his corner with guns blazing as he looked for the finish with every punch thrown. With Imavov slowing down, Buckley was throwing everything in an attempt to score the knockout but he just couldn’t put together enough damage to get the job done.
Still, Buckley deserves credit for leaving it all in the cage while Imavov showed once again that he’s a middleweight on the rise with the potential to threaten anybody in the top 15 rankings in the very near future.