After a four-week break, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) finally returns this Saturday (Jan. 14, 2023) to UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, with a big shake-up in the headliner. In the main event, two Top 15-ranked middleweights throwdown as No. 7-seeded Sean Strickland steps in on less than one week’ss notice to take on Nassourdine Imavov (No. 12).
Before the ESPN+-streamed event kicks off, let’s first check out some random storylines, tidbits and statistics of UFC Vegas 67.
Back-to-Back Main Event
Let’s start with one half of UFC Vegas 67’s main event. Strickland will be competing in back-to-back main events for the first time since Tito Ortiz did it back at UFC 50 and UFC 51. Ortiz also did what Strickland is doing this Saturday — headlining a card on the last event of the year and the first of the year. Ortiz did that at UFC 29 and UFC 30.
Bit of trivia: Strickland will be the first fighter in the modern era to headline the last card of one year and the first event of the next one. The last time this happened was literally when Zuffa purchased the UFC (Tito Ortiz w/ UFC 29 and 30).— Lucas Carrano (@lpcarrano) January 9, 2023
First Main Event
After five fights in UFC, France’s Imavov will compete in his first main event. He is 4-1 in UFC, with his last win coming over Joaquin Buckley at UFC Paris. Before that, he finished Edmen Shahbazyan and Ian Heinisch.
There are two fighters on the card this weekend who have been friends long before they were fighting inside the Octagon. Dan Ige and Punahele Soriano have been close friends since high school. They went to college together, and now they both live in Las Vegas. They compete in the featured bout and the co-main event of UFC Vegas 67, respectively (a.k.a. back-to-back fights). Ige fights Damon Jackson, while Soriano battles Roman Kopylov.
Long time friends and training partners, Dan Ige and Puna Soriano are fighting back to back this weekend at #UFCVegas67.— Alex Behunin (@AlexBehunin) January 9, 2023
Puna is in the featured bout and Dan is in the co-main.
They went to HS and college together and then made the move to Xtreme Couture pic.twitter.com/72yKJDWvr1
Xtreme Couture Heavy
The last fight card of 2022 was full of Xtreme Couture fighters, and this weekend they have four athletes going to war again (they ended up going 2-3). The Las Vegas-based gym has Strickland, Soriano, Ige and Javid Basharat competing this weekend.
Another gym has two fighters going to battle this weekend. Former Lightweight king Charles Oliviera’s gym, Chute Boxe, has Allan Nascimento and Mateus Mendonca fighting on the “Prelims” undercard. Nascimento fights Carlos Hernandez, while Mendonca makes his UFC debut against Basharat.
Five fighters are making their UFC debuts at UFC Vegas 67, and three are from the 2022 season of Contender Series.
The list includes:
- Mateusz Rebecki (16-1) fights fellow debutant Nick Fiore (6-0), and he is a heeeeavy favorite.
- Mateus Mendonca (10-0) makes his UFC debut against fellow Contender Series alumn, Javid Basharat.
- Claudio Ribeiro (10-2) makes his debut against Abdul Razak Alhassan in what should be an absolutely violent fight. Both men have a 100 percent finish rate with nothing but knockouts.
- Nick Aguirre (7-0) fights Dan Argueta on four days notice.
Retired No More!
Jimmy Flick is ending his retirement after being on the sidelines for more than one year. The 32-year-old retired after landing a flying triangle on Cody Durden, leaving the mixed martial arts (MMA) fanbase with blue balls. He was supposed to get a Top 15 match up in his return against Jeff Molina. Instead, he takes on Charles Johnson.
Another interesting thing about Flick is that this is the first time in his entire career he is competing as a full-time fighter. That’s right, since 2010 — and amassing a 16-5 record — the Flyweight worked a 9 to 5 job. He has since quit his job and decided to go all in on fighting.
On top of coming out of retirement, Jimmy Flick’s fight against Charles Johnson will be the first time in his career that he will be competing at as full time fighter pic.twitter.com/7cqvx4G5xr— MMA mania (@mmamania) January 9, 2023
Okay, one last thing about Flick. He is one of four fighters on this weekend's card who is a former Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) champion. LFA is the No. 1 regional feeder league to UFC. Flick and his opponent (Johnson) were LFA Flyweight champs, Argueta was the LFA Bantamweight champ, and Raoni Barcelos was a three-time RFA champion (RFA turned into LFA).
There are four fighters on this weekend's card that are former LFA champs— MMA mania (@mmamania) January 10, 2023
Raoni Barcelos (RFA)#UFCVegas67
Potential No. 1 Contender Fight
A fight on UFC Vegas 67’s main card has some huge title implications and could very well be a No. 1 contender fight for the women’s Bantamweight belt. No. 2-seeded Bantamweight, Ketlen Viera, takes on No. 5-ranked Raquel Pennington. Both women are on win streaks, with Viera defeating former champion Holly Holm in her most recent fight and Pennington defeating Aspen Ladd (who was on a four-fight win streak).
Wins and Losses
Nineteen fighters are coming off wins, while five fighters are coming off losses.
Six Brazilian fighters will compete at UFC Vegas 67: Priscila Cachoeira, Allan Nascimento, Mateus Mendonca, Claudio Ribeiro, Raoni Barcelos, and Ketlen Viera (UFC returns to Brazil next week for UFC 283).
At UFC Vegas 67, Damon Jackson will be repping a new nickname for the first time in his career. Jackson used to go by “The Leech;” however, now, he will be referred to as Damon “Action” Jackson. There is a heartwarming backstory to it as well. Jackson lost his brother mere days before his last fight, and now he will honor his brother by taking his nickname. His brother was known as “Action” Jackson while playing high school football and soccer.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 67 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN+) at 7 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 67: “Strickland vs. Imavov” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.
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