This past Saturday night in the headliner of UFC Vegas 67, we saw a light heavyweight bout contested between two top middleweight contenders. Sean Strickland (26-5) stepped in on just a few days notice to take on surging top contender Nassourdine Imavov (12-4).
Originally, Imavov was supposed to take on Kelvin Gastelum. However, after Gastelum got hurt the week of the fight, Sean Strickland stepped up to take the fight. The only condition was that the fight had to be contested at 205 pounds which Imavov agreed to.
Strickland was coming off a razor close loss at UFC Vegas 66 to Jared Cannonier just a month ago. He was still in shape and he was ready to go five rounds and that showed. All night long, Strickland was putting pressure on Imavov and never let him get comfortable.
Strickland kept things at a close boxing range and that really hurt the game of Imavov. Imavov was able to land shots here and there, but Strickland was slowly breaking him down. Entering the fifth round, it was evident that Imavov needed a finish. He came on strong and Strickland was tired, but Strickland held on to get the decision win at UFC Vegas 67.
What’s next after UFC Vegas 67?
Over the summer last year, Sean Strickland saw his winning streak halted when he was knocked out by the now champion, Alex Pereira. He lost a razor close split decision and entered 2023 riding a two-fight losing streak. He needed to get back in the win column.
However, I don’t think he anticipated getting back in the win column so quickly. Now that Strickland is back in the winner’s circle, what should the UFC do with him next? In looking at the rankings, I think a good fight for Strickland would be against former champion Robert Whittaker.
Whittaker was supposed to fight Paulo Costa at UFC 284 next month, but that fight fell apart due to Costa. I can’t see them re-booking that fight. In looking at the landscape, it seems like a great fight to make for all involved and it’s a fresh matchup for both men.