This past Saturday in the main event of UFC Vegas 76, we saw a showcase in the middleweight division. Top contender Sean Strickland (27-5) was looking for his second straight win while defending his ranking against the dangerous Abus Magomedov (25-5-1).
In the last three years, Magomedov had only fought once while having a number of fights fall through. That one fight was his UFC debut where he won by knockout in just 19 seconds. That limited time in the cage gave me pause in analyzing this matchup against a tough guy like Sean Strickland.
In the first round, Magomedov looked good throwing a variety of striking attacks at Strickland. A number of big kicks and punches were landing, but Strickland kept pushing forward. Towards the end of the round, I started noticing that Magomedov was looking a little tired.
In the second round, Strickland turned it on. Heavy on the pressure and combinations, he was teeing off on Magomedov. Magomedov really started to crumble under the pressure and then Strickland dropped him with a big shot. A few follow up shots later and Strickland got the big TKO win at UFC Vegas 76.
What’s next after UFC Vegas 76?
This was a big win for Strickland who has now won back-to-back fights after suffering his first two losses at 185. Strickland lost a split decision to Jared Cannonier back in December, but if that decision goes his way, he would be ranked at the very top of the UFC’s middleweight division.
After this win, Strickland made it clear that he wants a title shot. He believes that he’s paid his dues to the promotion and should get a shot at the title. However, that seems to be unlikely next. Robert Whittaker and Dricus Du Plessis are fighting this upcoming weekend with the winner likely getting the next title shot.
Perhaps if Whittaker wins, the UFC does something crazy like give Strickland the shot, but I don’t see it happening. Instead, I think Strickland would need a win over one of the top guys. Paulo Costa is fighting Ikram Aliskerov at the end of July.
If Costa wins that matchup, I think pairing him against Strickland makes a ton of sense.