The first card of 2023 is in the books and now we get to reflect on everything that was UFC Vegas 67 last night (Sat., Jan. 14, 2023) live on ESPN+ from inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
While massive news kept breaking all night — including Francis Ngannou’s UFC release and a heavyweight booking between Jon Jones and Ciryl Gane — UFC Vegas 67 delivered the real-time action that we’ve been waiting to see for weeks. From flyweight knockouts to first-round submissions, last night’s fights offered a little bit of everything.
Let’s take a look at the biggest storylines from UFC Vegas 67:
Is Dan Ige anything more than a power puncher?
Despite a solid showing this weekend that culminated with a blistering second-round knockout of Damon Jackson the verdict is still out on Dan Ige. Is he still a future title challenger or is he simply a knockout artist for hire?
Ige brought a three-fight losing streak into UFC Vegas 67’s matchup with Jackson so it’s nice to see him put a stop to the bleeding. Jackson was red-hot coming off of four-straight wins including a recent knockout over Pat Sabatini and seemed poised to attack the featherweight top 15 in 2023. It was an underrated matchup to say the least, but one that deserved a co-main event slot.
That said, we didn’t see enough from Ige to make us feel better about his featherweight future. Sure he’ll have a highlight-reel finish to look back on when he’s older, but he needed to give us more in this spot. Maybe it was a product of the matchup and not Ige’s growth as a fighter so we’ll reserve the right to issue a verdict at a later time. Because even though knockouts are great they aren’t a cure-all.
Does Raquel Pennington deserve another UFC title shot?
Say what you will about Raquel Pennington’s split-decision win over Ketlen Vieira this weekend at UFC Vegas 67 the veteran contender has now won five-straight and deserves to be mentioned among the next bantamweight title challengers. Right?
Well, based on wins alone Pennington should be on the short list of names deserving of a UFC women’s bantamweight title fight. She hasn’t lost since dropping a decision to former UFC champion Holly Holm back in 2020 and has blown past notable names like Vieira, Aspen Ladd, and Macy Chiasson one weight class up. Add in the fact that “Rocky” has been competing inside the Octagon for nearly a decade and it may be time for her to get another crack at the belt.
That said, Amanda Nunes is still the undisputed UFC women’s bantamweight champion and she obliterated Pennington in a meeting back at UFC 224. But that was nearly five years ago and “Lioness” has been humanized since then with her submission loss to Julianna Pena in late 2021. Now may be the time for Pennington to get her chance at Nunes again and prove she’s a better contender than what she showed in 2018.
Should Sean Strickland think about a move to light heavyweight?
It’s tough to know what’s going to happen with Sean Strickland in the middleweight division even after he stepped off the couch on five days notice and beat down Nassourdine Imavov this weekend at UFC Vegas 67. The veteran fighter was coming off back-to-back losses to Alex Pereira and Jared Cannonier so it still might take him a handful of wins to get as close to title contention as he was last year.
Maybe, just maybe, Strickland should think about a potential move up in weight to the light heavyweight division. Saturday’s main event opposite Imavov was in fact contested at 205 pounds. Strickland had about a 10-pound advantage over Imavov, but the middleweight contender made it work. Despite little time to prepare for the fight and the extra weight he carried, Strickland maintained a pace few fighters can match. His offense was persistent and it allowed him to control Imavov and capture a unanimous decision win.
Strickland looks to be comfortable fighting at this weight and with his spot among the middleweight pecking order still in question maybe he should take a shot at light heavyweight in 2023. There will certainly be some matchups that leave Strickland slightly undersized, but he’s skilled enough, durable enough, and tough enough to make a solid run at the Top 15.
For complete UFC Vegas 67 results and coverage click here.