UFC Vegas 67: Nassourdine Imavov vs. Sean Strickland preview & prediction

Sean Strickland
Sean Strickland /

UFC Vegas 67: Nassourdine Imavov vs. Sean Strickland preview.

The UFC is back after a four-week hiatus and after a sudden turn of events earlier in the week, the same middleweight that closed out the year for the promotion as the headliner has stepped up and is now slated to be the second half of the main event. Here comes the controversial and always fight-ready Sean Strickland (25-5), who’s the first UFC fighter since Tito Ortiz in UFC 29 and UFC 30 to be a part of back-to-back main events. Strickland will face the Nassourdine Imavov (12-3) that comes in with a three-fight winning streak and will look up to boost his No.12 ranking with a win.

Imavov was initially scheduled to faceoff against Kelvin Gastelum, but due to a mouth injury, he had to pull out. With the change of last-minute opponents, Imavov will arguably face tougher competition that has a solid base in grappling with a strong foundation of cardio and pace. Luckily, Imavov’s game plan should not change much considering Gastelum and Strickland are predominantly strikers who only utilize their wrestling and grappling if necessary or for defensive purposes.

Strickland is coming off a split decision against Jared Cannonier and will look to start the new year with a statement after showing clear frustration by leaving it to the judges in December. The No. 7 ranked middleweight is currently on a 2-fight losing skid and this would be his fourth main event, while Imavov will encounter going five rounds for the first time in the UFC if the bout lasts that long.

Nassourdine Imavov vs. Sean Strickland prediction

Imavov is a high-rising prospect with a ceiling that’s still unknown due to this main event being the biggest challenge of his career and the uncertainty of what his cardio looks like after the third round against elite competition. The aspects of the fight that favor him against Strickland are his crisp striking that he mixes up with elbows, knees, and his range and movement. If Imavov is taken down he typically is sneaky with submissions to capitalize or reverse the position, and on the other hand, if he scores a takedown he will look to keep you there until a mistake is made by his opponent.

Strickland is known to be a cardio machine inside the gym and outside the gym when it’s time to step inside the octagon, and he flourishes when using his boxing fundamentals to push the pace and outlast previous opponents like Uriah Hall and Jack Hermansson. The experience and the underrated grappling favor him if the fight goes the distance, and I suspect that it will go to the fifth round with Strickland earning a win, and Imavov just falling short.

Prediction: Strickland via unanimous decision.

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UFC Vegas 67 takes place on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023, live from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. Follow along with FanSided MMA, who is on-site, for all your news and highlights.