UFC: Kelvin Gastelum vs. Shavkat Rakhmonov Welterweight Bout Booked As Sept. 16 Co-Main Event

Shavkat Rakhmonov, UFC
Shavkat Rakhmonov, UFC 285 ceremonial weigh-in Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

The UFC’s September 16 Fight Night show is set to celebrate Mexican Independence Day, and the card is getting a tantalizing co-main event.

On Wednesday, UFC President Dana White announced that The Ultimate Fighter 17 winner Kelvin Gastelum (17-8, 1NC) will return to the welterweight division to face surging, undefeated Kazakh Shavkat Rakhmonov (17-0).

The card is set for the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“We are going to build the most incredible card for September 16,” promised White, promoting the fact that the title-fight headlined show will be free for ESPN+ subscribers.

Gastelum is coming off a Fight of the Night win against Chris Curtis at UFC 287 back in April. The fight took place in the middleweight division, the same weight class that saw Gastelum capture the TUF crown, and where he has competed since 2016.

The 31-year old dropped to welterweight upon entering the UFC, in a run that was plagued by weight-related struggles. A full three misses in attempts to hit the welterweight limit led to Dana White claiming that Gastelum would never be allowed to compete at 170 pounds again.

Rakhmonov has been a wrecking machine in the UFC welterweight division since joining the promotion in 2020. He’s posted a 5-0 record in the company with five finishes and three post-fight bonuses. Most recently, he submitted Geoff Neal in a Fight of the Night-winning effort.

The 28-year old Rakhmonov is currently ranked #6 in the promotion’s welterweight division. Kelvin Gastelum is ranked #12, albeit in the middleweight division.

The UFC’s September 16, 2023 Fight Night card is set to air on ESPN+, with women’s flyweight champ Alexa Grasso running it back with Valentina Shevchenko in the main event. The following match-ups have been reported for the card:

  • Alexa Grasso (c) vs. Valentina Shevchenko — for the UFC women’s flyweight championship
  • Shavkat Rakhmonov vs. Kelvin Gastelum
  • Chris Curtis vs. Anthony Hernandez
  • Lupita Godinez vs. Sam Hughes