Sean Strickland wasn’t too keen on accepting a short-notice fight against Nassourdine Imavov tomorrow night (Sat., Jan. 14, 2023) at UFC Vegas 67 live on ESPN+ from inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, but the middleweight contender couldn’t say no to a larger payday.
Imavov was originally expected to headline UFC’s 2023 opening card this weekend against Kelvin Gastelum before the veteran fighter was removed from the bout due to a mouth injury (see HERE). There was little time to find a suitable replacement so the promotion called one of the only people they knew wouldn’t say no.
Strickland, who is coming off a decision loss to Jared Cannonier to close out 2022 at UFC Vegas 66 last month, has always made it known that he would fight just about anybody at anytime. He now gets his chance to fill in on short notice even if Saturday’s main event opposite Imavov will be contested at 205 pounds.
“I was currently planning a snowboarding trip and then Mick [Maynard] calls me and I’m like, ‘Mick is going to ask me to do something I don’t want to do,’” Strickland told reporters earlier this week (via MMA Fighting). “... He calls me and he’s like, ‘Hey, you want this fight?’ I’m like, ‘God damn it, Mick. I haven’t done anything for a month. I’ve been sitting on my ass.’ ... Then his suave Australian motherf—king ass says, ‘We’ll pay you a decent amount of money,’ and I said, ‘Well god damn it, I’m your f—king huckleberry. Let’s go f—king fight a man.’”
Strickland, 31, is currently ranked No. 7 in the UFC’s stacked middleweight division. He was one win away from a title shot last year before running into an Alex Pereira knockout at UFC 276. A victory over Imavov this weekend at UFC Vegas 67 will help Strickland get back on track at 185 pounds and provide him the momentum he needs to push toward another potential title shot.
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.
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