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UFC Vegas: Strickland vs Imavov - Jan 14 🇺🇸


wandshogun09

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First UFC card of the year and it’s a Strickland 5 rounder at the sodding Apex again. Happy New Year!

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ESPN MAIN CARD
Sean Strickland vs Nassourdine Imavov 

Dan Ige vs Damon Jackson  

Punahele Soriano vs Roman Kopylov

Ketlen Vieira vs Raquel Pennington

Umar Nurmagomedov vs Raoni Barcelos

ESPN+/FIGHT PASS PRELIMS
Mateus Mendonca vs Javid Basharat

Abdul Razak Alhassan vs Claudio Ribeiro

Mateusz Rebecki vs Nick Fiore

Allan Nascimento vs Carlos Hernandez 

Nick Aguirre vs Dan Argueta 

Jimmy Flick vs Charles Johnson 

 

Not sure if this is the official bout order, it’s how Marcel Dorff has it so we’ll roll with it. I’ll edit as and when. Not a bad card at all but, again, like 283 the following week, I think they’ve got the wrong fight headlining. I’d absolutely have gone with Neal vs Rakhmonov on top but what do I know? Regardless, there’s some good stuff scattered throughout this card. Wish they’d sack the Apex off though. I know Dana’s saying they’re gonna take Fight Nights on the road more this year but that can’t come soon enough for me.

 

 

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So Sean Strickland vs Nassourdine Imavov is our first UFC headliner of 2023. The original Imavov vs Kelvin Gastelum main event went to shit and here we are. Smashing. Seems about right considering what an absolutely awful start to the year for MMA it’s been so far. It’s almost fitting in a fucked up way that we kick the year off like this. We ended 2022 with a Strickland 5 rounder at the Apex and now we’re starting 2023 with another Strickland 5 rounder at the Apex. And frankly, with the way MMA fans have gone on the last couple of weeks, we don’t even deserve better.

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God I can’t stand this prick. Complete and utter bellend outside the cage, dull as bastard dishwater in the cage. No redeeming qualities whatsoever. Unless you’re a sad twat who gets off on living vicariously through ‘edgy’ dickheads like this because you identify with their shitty views. Or you’re a weirdo who’s supporting him just because others root against him. I see no genuine reason to actually like him. There’s nothing to like. His fanbase (the fact he has fans is cringeworthy in itself) seems to consist purely of the types who worship Andrew Tate, defend Dana White slapping his wife about and call anyone who doesn’t agree with cuntish, racist or homophobic takes as ‘snowflakes’. The absolute dregs support Strickland. As far as his actual fighting skills go, he’s not bad. He’s not anything special either though and he’s certainly not entertaining to watch bell to bell. The commentators can talk about ‘Psycho Sean’ all they want but then he gets in there and mostly fights like a female Bantamweight and most of the aggression is verbal. There’s only so much of that shite I can stomach. The best thing he’s ever done in the cage is walk forward with his hands down, towards Alex Pereira of all people, and get sparked. He comes into this fight off a split decision loss to Jared Cannonier in December. Most had Strickland winning but it was a typically boring and negative showing from him and I didn’t feel sorry for him getting stiffed by the judges one bit. Balls to him.

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I can kind of see why they wanted to shine a bit of main event spotlight on Imavov. The Middleweight division needs all the new blood it can get. I’m not convinced Imavov can deliver the goods though. Maybe he’ll prove me wrong but I haven’t been blown away by what I’ve seen of him so far. He’s only 26 years old, Dagestani born, French national. Trains out of the MMA Factory in France under Fernand Lopez and alongside Ciryl Gane and K-1 legend Jerome Le Banner. Current record stands at 12-3 with 9 inside the distance. He wasn’t on my radar until quite recently. I know I’d seen some of his fights but nothing particularly stood out in the memory about him. He lost a majority decision to Phil Hawes in early 2021 that I have zero recollection of but, aside from that, it’s been all wins in the UFC so far. He’s won his last 3 fights now. He finished Ian Heinisch and Edmen Shahbazyan in fights I vaguely remember. His last fight is when I finally took some notice though.

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He went up against Joaquin Buckley on the Paris card in September and won by decision in an enjoyable fight. Wasn’t a FOTY contender or anything but I found it very entertaining. I remember thinking it was gonna be FOTN that night but then Gane and Tuivasa went out and had that barmy fight in the main event. Good stuff though. As I recall, Imavov clearly won the first 2 rounds but then Buckley rallied in the last round and was throwing big horrible haymakers to get the finish he badly needed. It made for edge of the seat viewing but, in the end, Imavov was able to weather the storm and come out with the W.

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Not expecting much from this. I’d love to see Imavov hand Strickland his third straight loss but I’m not confident he gets it done. I could just as easily see Strickland eeking out a lifeless decision by doing the bare minimum but just enough to win more of the rounds. It’s kind of a weird one for Imavov. On the one hand it’s a better opportunity for him just because Strickland is higher ranked than Gastelum was and a win over Strickland means more than a win over 2023 Gastelum. But on the other hand, on paper that Gastelum matchup was kind of the perfect showcase for Imavov to make his first headline appearance in. Gastelum’s still got enough of a name (just) that it would’ve been a boost for Imavov but he’s also in a slump and physically Imavov had all the advantages. Their career trajectories are going in opposite directions and it felt like Imavov was catching him at an ideal time. Strickland’s not without flaws but he’s gonna be trickier to deal with and even if Imavov gets the win, you never really look good against Strickland unless you can just wallop him. And I’m not sure Imavov can. I genuinely don’t even know if I can be arsed to watch this fight. And I sat through 25 minutes of Aspen Ladd vs Norma Dumont not that long ago! 

 

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Dan Ige vs Damon Jackson is a solid fight in the Featherweight division. Neither are gonna be in title contention but I don’t mind the matchup. Ige has become a bit of a ‘jobber to the stars’ at this stage. He’s lost 4 of his last 5 and been fed to Korean Zombie, Josh Emmett and Movsar Evloev in his last 3 fights. Ouch! He’s not a bad fighter at all. He went 5 rounds with Calvin Kattar and took a close decision win off Edson Barboza. But he’s struggling at the moment. So I feel harsh wishing for another L for him here. But I’m hoping Jackson pulls out the win.

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That was the end of his last fight in September. An emotionally charged one minute destruction against Pat Sabatini. I’ve been indifferent to Jackson his whole UFC career but I was instantly rooting for him that night when I heard the backstory about his brother dying just days before that fight. Nobody would’ve blamed Jackson if he pulled out of that fight under those circumstances. And Sabatini was a really difficult matchup on paper, an awkward grinder who was on a winning streak going in. I fancied Sabatini to win anyway but when I heard about Jackson losing his brother, my heart sank a bit for him. I was dreading the sad sight of him getting dragged about to a decision loss or something. But he was like a man possessed that night and smashed through Sabatini quick. Then the emotion came flooding out. I know it means nothing compared to his brother dying but it was a nice moment to see him get that win. A little positive in an otherwise awful period of time for him. All that aside, Jackson is actually on a solid little 4 fight win streak now. Last loss was against Ilia Topuria in 2020 but we won’t hold that against him. I’d like to see him stay in the win column here. Got a feeling Ige is gonna end up in PFL or something this year. He’s on that Marlon Moraes trajectory.

 

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Punahele Soriano vs Roman Kopylov will probably be decent enough. I’m neither her nor there on Kopylov but Soriano usually brings it. Typical scrappy Hawaiian who loves to throw down. Scored a brutal knockout over Oskar Piechota in his UFC debut in late 2019 and followed that up with a stoppage win over tough Serbian banger Dusko Todorovic. He’s dropped a couple of decisions since to Brendan Allen and Nick Maximov but the Allen fight was a bit of a war. And the Maximov fight was a split decision but I remember Soriano mostly getting outgrappled in that one. That seems to be his main downfall, the grappling side of things. Not ideal obviously but at the very least he’ll always be fun to watch in the middle of the pack. He did bounce back in July with a knockout win over Dalcha Lungiambula. Kopylov is nothing special. 9-2 record and coming off a knockout win over Alessio Di Chirico but he’d lost his first two UFC outings against Karl Roberson and Albert Duraev before that. Hoping for another win for Puna here.

 

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Ketlen Vieira vs Raquel Pennington is just filling a slot on this card. Not into it. If this fight had been made a few years ago I’d have been a bit more up for it. I felt like Vieira was looking fairly promising at one point. She came into the UFC unbeaten and got wins over Sara McMann and Cat Zingano early into her UFC run. A bad knee injury sidelined her for the best part of 2 years and she hasn’t looked too good since. Whether she was never much cop anyway or the injury took something away from her, whatever, I haven’t enjoyed watching her lately. I mean you look at her record and she’s coming off a couple of big name wins over Miesha Tate and Holly Holm. But those fights were shite and the Holm decision was debated with many thinking Holm won. I think I had Vieira winning myself but it’s not a fight I’m gonna be rewatching. Only good thing to come out of it was this picture…

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 😂 But yeah, wins over Tate and Holm don’t carry as much weight as they used to. Tate looks shot to me and Holm’s 41 years old and was coming off a big layoff. Really not convinced by Vieira. Plus she lost to Yana Kunitskaya not too long ago and Kunitskaya isn’t very good. Vieira will still probably find herself in a title shot soon if she gets a win here though. Just because there’s barely anything going on at 135 these days. I think they’ll go with Nunes vs Pena 3 but if they don’t, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Vieira thrown in with Nunes just because she’s one of the only fresh fights left. I quite like Pennington, to be fair. She’s not great but she’s a tough little sod and she’s had her moments over the years. She also has a win over Tate, submitted Jessica Andrade years ago and she’s coming into this fight off 4 wins. I don’t see her getting much of an exciting fight out of this though, and she probably loses as well.

 

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Umar Nurmagomedov vs Raoni Barcelos is ***WAND’S ONE TO WATCH*** and a cracking little fight. Umar was always gonna have all eyes on his progression because of his last name but, to be fair to him, he’s earning his way and showing legit promise on his own merits. He’s got a big shadow to get out from under in the form of cousin Khabib, but he’s going the right way about it so far. Steadily improving and gradually moving up in levels.

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The Nurmagomedov World Order there. Umar and his brother Usman are trying to take over the world. Umar at 135 in the UFC, Usman at 155 in Bellator. Usman’s already the champ over there, Umar’s climb is gonna be a bit slower. But it’s looking good so far. He really hasn’t put a foot wrong yet. Only 26 years old and undefeated at 15-0. He subbed Sergey Morozov in his UFC debut, took a fight at 145 and choked Brian Kelleher in 3 minutes, then returned to 135 to dominate Nate Maness to a points loss. I saw some criticism at the time because he didn’t get the finish but I don’t think it was a bad thing for Umar to get some more cage time. And it wasn’t like he was ever in any kind of danger. He put on a really strong display in both the striking and grappling. I like what I’m seeing. I’m a fan of Barcelos as well though. Fun fighter to watch. Likes a scrap, good striker. I remember not long ago seeing people hype him up as a prospect but he’s 35 now. He’s not gonna go on some career surge. Especially in a shark tank like the Bantamweight division in its current form. Not happening. But he’s usually good for an entertaining fight. It’ll be interesting to see if he can get anything done against Umar here. I suspect not but I hope he can at least make a bit of a fight of it. Still a fight I think Umar wins but it’s a bit of a step up.

 

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Mateus Mendonca vs Javid Basharat doesn’t leap out off the page when looking at this card but don’t sleep on it. I’ve never seen Mendonca before, this’ll be his UFC debut but I just looked him up and he sounds like a decent signing. He turns 24 a few days after this show and he’s undefeated at 10-0 with 7 finishes. Early days of course but so far, so good. He scored a 48 second KO on DWCS in September. And I’ve liked the little I’ve seen of Basharat so far.

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He’s also unbeaten at 13-0, 11 finishes. He’s 27 years old, from Afghanistan but moved to the UK as a kid and lives in London now. Got a submission win on DWCS in October 2021 and has beaten Trevin Jones and Tony Gravely on points in the UFC in 2022. I remember more of the Jones fight than the Gravely one but I recall thinking he looked good and seemed quite likeable. Someone’s O…you know the rest.

 

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Abdul Razak Alhassan vs Claudio Ribeiro. OK don’t blink during this one. This isn’t the fight to go and make a quick sandwich or go for a piss or something. Anyone who’s watched Alhassan before knows he’s all about the knockout. His nickname is ‘Judo Thunder’ but I don’t recall much Judo being used in his fights. He’s 11-5 and all 11 wins came via knockout. All in the first round, 7 in less than a minute! Top Judo. Gene LeBell would be proud. And although I’d never heard of Ribeiro before, just looking him up on Sherdog now, it seems he’s got that same fondness for separating his opponents from consciousness. He’s Brazilian, 30 years old and 10-2 with 9 knockouts, 8 in the first round. Sheesh. Of course you know this means I’ve just jinxed it now and they’re gonna recreate Esparza vs Namajunas from last year.

 

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Mateusz Rebecki vs Nick Fiore is a complete blind spot on this card for me. Was originally supposed to be Rebecki against Omar Morales, who I was vague on but he’d at least fought in the UFC a few times. These two are new on me though. Both making their Octagon debuts. Fiore steps in as a replacement. He’s 25 years old and undefeated at 6-0, all finishes. Sounds good but from what I read he’s been a full on can crusher so far. His opponents so far have a combined 234 losses! He fought this guy twice, for fuck’s sake.

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Jesus Christ 😬 most of his opponents have losing records but this was obviously the worst. Anyway…Rebecki is Polish, a haggard looking 30 years old and he’s 16-1 with 14 finishes. He got a first round submission on DWCS in August and here we are.

 

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Allan Nascimento vs Carlos Hernandez is alright. Nothing earth shattering but it’s an OK prelim fight. Nascimento has a deceptively solid record actually. 19-6 with 15 finishes and coming off a points win over Jake Hadley in May. He’s never been finished and his last 3 losses were by split decision so maybe there was an argument for him winning those. He’s never gonna be a contender but he seems to be one of those handy journeymen types who will give up and comers a test on the way up or, in the case of Hadley, even temporarily derail them from time to time. I don’t really remember Hernandez but he’s 8-1 and hasn’t lost since dropping a decision in his MMA debut back in 2017.

 

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Nick Aguirre vs Dan Argueta then. Don’t know enough about either of these two to give too much of a shite but it might be alright. It was supposed to be Argueta against newcomer Isaac Dulgarian but Dulgarian dropped out with about a week to go. In steps another guy making his Octagon debut in ‘Slick’ Nick Aguirre. He turns 27 the day after this show and he’s currently unbeaten at 7-0, all finishes. Not much else out there on him. Argueta is 29 years old and 8-1 with 6 finishes. He’s a standout wrestler and was undefeated and won the LFA Bantamweight belt just before the UFC picked him up. Although he did previously appear on TUF, losing to Ricky Turcios in the quarterfinals. He jumped in on short notice against Damon Jackson in his UFC debut in June and ended up losing a decision. Don’t know how much of that was the late notice but it can’t have helped. I was interested to see how he’d look this time with a full camp but now he’s had a late opponent switch. Bit shit for him really but what can you do?

 

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Jimmy Flick vs Charles Johnson definitely has my attention. Although I am slightly disappointed because it was originally supposed to be Flick against Jeff Molina. That’s a fight that might’ve made me reconsider my ‘one to watch’ but Molina is out. Still looking forward to it though. Flick’s a funny one. He won the LFA title, got a submission on DWCS back in September 2020 and made his UFC debut that December. He made a hell of a first impression as well, putting Cody Durden away with a sweet first round flying triangle finish!

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Who does that in their first Octagon appearance? Instantly got people talking and definitely made a fan of me. Then he just retired. Seemed really out of the blue at the time for a young fighter to make it to the big stage, get a highlight reel win like that and then just call it a day. But you never know what’s going on in someone’s personal life or where their head is at. Hopefully whatever he had going on is sorted now and he can make a proper run at it.

“To make it short and sweet, I quit for my family and at the end of the day, you’ve got to be happy. My UFC career is no longer on hold. I want to be the biggest thing to come out of Sand Springs, Oklahoma and I want to leave a legacy for my girls. I just want to know that when I’m done, I can put my gloves down in the cage like I’m supposed to and retire the right way. I didn’t retire the right way. The division is already on notice. Now it’s still for my family but it’s for my girls, for me, the Flick name.” - Jimmy Flick

He sounds genuinely fired up about returning as well and at 32, he’s still got some time. He’s very much a submission guy. A 16-5 record with 14 submissions! I haven’t seen much of his standup but he’ll obviously need to be well rounded in that division. We’ll see. At the very least he’s a really fun addition to an already fantastic Flyweight division. Charles Johnson could be a tough comeback fight though. He’s not anything amazing but he can be a bit awkward and he’s been active during Flick’s absence. He’s 12-3 with 8 finishes, hasn’t been a world beater but there’s definitely some things to take from his record that suggests he’s no mug. In his LFA days he went the distance with Brandon Royval years ago and stopped Carlos Mota in the 5th round of their fight a year ago to become the promotion’s champ. In the UFC he’s gone 1-1 but he took Muhammad Mokaev to the scorecards and he won a controversial decision off Zhalgas Zhumagulov last time out in November. I’d love to see Flick come back with a bang and bust out another slick sub here but this could be a tricky one.

 

Slappy New Year. 

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Edited by wandshogun09
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Yeah it’s proper shite this. Worst thing is I can’t see anyone of note being up for fighting Shavkat on 2 weeks notice. It sounds like it’s been hard enough getting the higher ranked fighters to fight him on a full camp so with a fortnight to go chances are gonna be very slim.

I don’t know what happens now but I saw a quote from Neal saying he’s hoping to reschedule the fight for a later date so it can’t be anything too serious. Guess it depends on what Shavkat wants to do. If he just wants to fight then maybe they’ll keep him on the card but it’s gonna be a last minute no hoper now, someone off the regional circuit just trying to get in the door. I think he’ll be scratched from the card which is unfortunate for this card but it’s probably for the best. Shavkat’s been due a step up and this year looks like it’ll be a big one. Him having to face some jobber here kind of stalls his progress so if they can just rebook the Neal fight for Feb/Mar or something that would probably be for the best.

I’ve seen a few calls for Khamzat Chimaev to step in. As much as I’d love to get the unexpected late Christmas present of Chimaev vs Rakhmonov, I really doubt that happens. Chimaev has been moaning lately about nobody wanting to fight him but even if he’d be up for this, I really can’t see the UFC/Dana going for it and risking Chimaev’s rise against someone like Shavkat, on short notice, just to rescue an Apex card. Not happening is it?

Edit - Barberena’s now offering to step in for a Catchweight of 180. I think that’s a terrible move for Bam Bam but fair play. 

 

Edited by wandshogun09
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This is surely in the Top 5 worst Apex main events ever, right? Theres been some stinkers with the women headlining them, but at least one of the two fighters is a fairly well known fighter with some previous high profile fights. This has neither the name value, nor the high stakes of winning the match.

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And Strickland’s a boring cunt who has to be ‘edgy’ for anyone to give even a fraction of a fuck. I hope Imavov chins him but I’m not convinced he’s that good either. Rotten. 

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10 minutes ago, Dai said:

This is surely in the Top 5 worst Apex main events ever, right? Theres been some stinkers with the women headlining them, but at least one of the two fighters is a fairly well known fighter with some previous high profile fights. This has neither the name value, nor the high stakes of winning the match.

I'd say it's actually improved as far as name value goes, with Strickland being quite well known in MMA today. 

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  • wandshogun09 changed the title to UFC Vegas: Strickland vs Imavov - Jan 14 🇺🇸

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