CHICAGO, IL JANUARY 15, 2023 JACOB DIETRICH
UFC was back in 2023 and we kind of started it the way 2022 closed. With a Sean Strickland headlined fight night card. Strickland won the fight as the betting underdog (odds were very close as I got him at +105) and while his ranking may not change from number seven in the middleweight division, he is definitely going back in the right direction.
Sean Strickland is both loved and hated by many. He lost the final fight night by a controversial decision to number three middleweight, Jared Cannonier. In this fight, Strickland stepped in on very late notice to save the card after Kelvin Gastelum had to be removed due to a gnarly face injury suffered in camp. Strickland was appreciated as many believe he is the only person in the world that would step up to take on the rising prospect of Nassourdine Imavov. He pushed his pace and had control for much of the fight, so much so before the results were announced he stepped towards the judges table saying they were the reason he had to fight in this bout. Truthfully, Strickland is a money hungry animal, I believe he would have taken this fight regardless. He can be called many names but one that everyone should be calling him is fearless. He is not afraid to take a fight regardless of who the opponent is which we saw when he faced off with Alex Pereira last summer. A fight I would love to see next for Strickland is Sean vs. Derek Brunson is a title fight eliminator. Both guys have been around but both are on the outer layer of this title fight onion and one needs to be peeled off to bring more clarity. Both men are getting older and while neither would need to be cut, we could be talking about retirement for Brunson or turning Strickland into the ultimate gatekeeper to get into the top 5 of the middleweight division for the loser of that fight.
Imavov is only 26 years old so by no means is he heading in the wrong direction. Without a doubt, Sean Strickland is the toughest test that Nassourdine has had across the octagon and it isn’t really a debate. He was defeated on points and at times looked to have some promise but this didn’t last as Strickland was able to avoid danger and force himself to go forward and land strikes of his own. Imavov will be back likely by summer of 2023 since he didn’t take a crazy amount of damage and all he will need is time to get back to the gym and get a new plan but the fight I would love for the young man would be to be up with Jack Hermansson in a fight night main event. I think this is a winnable entertaining fight. We are coming to the end of the Jack Hermansson experiment, he is 1-2 in his last three fights with his win coming in a very boring three round affair with Chris Curtis in July last year. Hermansson is ranked 9 at the moment and with a win Imavov could be in the top 5 looking to face off against guys like Paulo Costa, Dricus Du Plessis, or if Luke Rockhold decides to fight again.
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