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Sean Strickland kicks off 2023 with decisive win over Nassourdine Imavov

LAS VEGAS, NV – JANUARY 14: (RL) Sean Strickland punches Nassourdine Imavov of Russia in a light heavyweight bout during UFC Fight Night at UFC APEX on January 14, 2023 in Las Vegas. Vegas, Nevada (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Sean Strickland stepped in a short time to fight Nassourdine Imavov at UFC Vegas 67 for the first UFC main event of 2023, less than a month after the last fight in 2022.

Imavov was scheduled to face Kelvin Gastelum for Imavov’s first major event in the promotion, but Gastelum withdrew in fight week with injury. Last minute heavyweight to support him, Imavov enters the fight ranked 12th at middleweight while Strickland is ranked 7th, so a win over Strickland is a big deal for the pushback. Chance to be French/Dagestani to the top of the generation

The first round started with Strickland moving upright as Imavov bounced in and out of range with a left hook. Look for the same shot that Alex Pereira knocks out Sean. Imavov’s speed is noticeable. He landed with a one minute big right hand which caused Strickland to stumble backward. They calmed down a bit after that. Sean looks for hand-to-hand combat to punch. While the Imaphov’s explosion was getting smaller and smaller. Halfway through that round, Strickland delivered his biggest punch of the fight. Right-handed to hurt Imanov and put him on his backfoot, Strickland increased the pressure looking to beat a compromise opponent, but Imavov did well to keep himself safe and recover. Strickland increased his work rate after that. and as the round draws near He stole the momentum.

The second lap started slower than the first, with Strickland always moving forward, making Imavov uncomfortable. Strickland was furious when Imavov grabbed his glove, at one point landing a left hook that caused the Frenchman to rock Imavov back in heat. and turn it into a momentary dogfight. Whereas before, in the second round it turned into a medium-speed tournament. Strickland surprised everyone with a takedown counterattack mid-round. But Imafov immediately bounced back to his feet and separated after a brief hug. Strickland’s hook and hands started to get wild and awkward as he distanced himself from his usual straight punch.

Strickland calmed down a bit as the third round started and resumed his straight hitting style. His style worked for him as he pushed Imavov back again. Imavov fired a long takedown halfway through the round, but Sean backed off easily. The Frenchman’s outstanding pace dropped dramatically from that point. and he has foot problems Although he did not dominate the round But he moved comfortably that round, and this round seemed to be the clearest score of the fight so far.

Before entering the fourth round for the first time in his career, Fernand Lopez warned his pupil Imavov that they were losing points. Encourage him to do more. when the round begins It was more of the same from the third round, Strickland was able to parry or slip the occasional hand thrown by Imavov. two minutes into that round Sean hits his opponent with his right hand that makes Imafofce. and make him shoot a takedown in despair. Sean defended and caressed a weary Nazzurdine quickly. Imavov made a good use of his elbow when they broke, but Strickland wasn’t blocked. Telegraphing his attack so Strickland could easily defend himself, Strickland kept his pace consistent and charged out with a good shot for the remainder of the round.

Imavov’s coach pleaded for him to finish again. saying that he had to cross the finish line to win the fight Meanwhile, Strickland didn’t even sit during the round. Looking confident and in control, however, Imavov only had a few right-handers in the opening final. Shaun wore more Imavov in the clinch in the second minute of the round, but Imavov hit him with another elbow in the break. The second time, as he had more success on his foot in this round, which required Strickland to clinch to hold him in. Imavov continued to use an elbow in close quarters during those exchanges, Imavov landing a massive knee to Strickland’s head. That was dodgy at the last minute, but Sean still held his ground. Strickland did his best to move forward and held on until the final ten seconds when he swung wildly with both hands before the final buzzer sounded.

The first main event of 2023 went to the referees and their scorecard gave Sean. Unsurprisingly, Strickland won. He bounced back from losing a split decision at the end of 2022.

OFFICIAL RESULTS: Sean Strickland defeats Nasserdine Imawov via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 48-47).

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