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UFC Fight Night 217 predictions — Sean Strickland vs. Nassourdine Imavov: Fight card, start time, odds, stream January 14, 2023:
Dont Miss A Moment Of UFC Fight Night: Strickland vs Imavov, Live From The UFC APEX In Las Vegas, Nevada On January 14, 2023
UFC did a nice job to salvage the main event for UFC Fight Night on Saturday. Sean Strickland had no fight scheduled at the week’s start and Nassourdine Imavov planned a cut to 185 pounds. The two ranked middleweights will now headline the UFC Apex in Las Vegas up a weight class.
Imavov and Kelvin Gastelum were the original headliners for UFC’s first card of 2023. Aforced him off the card on Tuesday. Strickland, less than 30 days removed from headlining the final UFC event of 2022, stepped in for Gastelum on four days’ notice. The impromptu booking shifted the fight from 185 pounds to 205 pounds, likely to allow Strickland an easier weight cut on such short notice.
Imavov (12-3) is quietly building himself a reputation as France’s next great hope for a world title alongside his teammate, heavyweight Ciryl Gane. Imavov has pieced together a strong 5-1 run in his MMA Fights at UFC appearances with only a majority loss sullying that record. Wins over Joaquin Buckley, Edmen Shahbazyan and Ian Heinisch have proven the potential is there. The light heavyweight contest should not affect the rankings at 185, but a win over Strickland sets Imavov up for the middleweight fights he desires most.
“If there is another UFC Fight Night in Paris and I could main event, I’d like to fight someone in the top five, so why not Marvin Vettori or Paulo Costa?” Imavov told CBS Sports.
Imavov is aware of Strickland’s notoriously big mouth when it comes to pre-fight trash talk and in-ring talk as well. He plans to try and keep his focus regardless of what comes his way verbally.
Strickland (25-5) is officially in need of repairs after losing the momentum he built with six straight wins. Strickland enters UFC Fight Night having lost consecutive fights for the first time in his 30-fight career. A KO loss to Alex Pereira in a title eliminator was followed by a tight split decision loss to Cannonier on Dec. 17. Fighting again so soon was the furthest thing from Strickland’s mind, but money talks and a call from UFC vice president of talent relations Mick Maynard was the catalyst for his quick turnaround.
“I was currently planning a snowboarding trip and then Mick calls me and I’m like, ‘Mick is going to ask me to do something I don’t want to do,'” Strickland told reporters at Wednesday’s media day. “…He calls me and he’s like, ‘Hey, you want this fight?’ I’m like, ‘God damn it, Mick. I haven’t done anything for a month. I’ve been sitting on my ass.’
The rest of the card fills out nicely with fun matchups scattered across different weight classes. Dan Ige and Damon Jackson are set to throw down in an important featherweight contest. Ige enters having lost his last three contests, all by decision. Jackson, meanwhile, looks to bring his submission specialty to the cage in hopes of rising the ranks. Plus, power puncher Pun hele Soriano is back in a middleweight contest opposite Roman Kopylov.
UFC Fight Night viewing information
Date: Jan. 14 | Start time: 7 p.m. ET Location: UFC Apex — Las Vegas TV channel: ESPN+ | Allwrestling