The first Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) card of 2023 wasn’t an absolute banger, but last night’s UFC Vegas 67 event did set the tone for the new year in more than one way. From short-notice heroics to undeniable talent, UFC’s opening night gave fight fans much to talk about after the action calmed.
Let’s take a look at a few takeaways from UFC Vegas 67 below:
Opportunity Only Knocks Once
Sean Strickland accepted his fight with Nassourdine Imavov on less than one week’s notice in order to save UFC Vegas 67’s main event. He also did it to bank a load of money and give himself the chance to re-enter the UFC win column.
Coming off a brutal knockout loss to Alex Pereira at UFC 276 followed by a split-decision loss to Jared Cannonier just four weeks ago, this was an opportunity Strickland simply couldn’t pass up. Despite the short notice and the fight taking place at light heavyweight, Strickland was ready to set the pace for the rest of the pack.
Imavov came into this fight riding an impressive three-fight streak, but Strickland took him out of his game right away. Strickland plodded forward and closed the gap to enter boxing range. He was able to use that positioning to keep Imavov from doing what he wanted to and in turn that allowed Strickland to land his punches and tire the opposition for an eventual decision win.
Pretty impressive stuff when you consider Strickland was sitting on his couch last weekend.
Khabib Is Out, Umar Is In
Now that former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is no longer partaking in mixed martial arts in its entirety, the likes of Islam Makhachev and Umar Nurmagomedov are left to carry the torch. Well, Makhachev is the current UFC lightweight champion and Umar is on the verge of taking the bantamweight division by storm.
Nurmagomedov, who is the cousin of Khabib, took his biggest UFC steps yet Saturday night when he opened up the main card against Brazilian veteran Raoni Barcelos. For those who don’t know, Barcelos is a seasoned vet who brought a 6-2 UFC record into this weekend. He had never been finished by strikes in his career and he had only been submitted once all the way back in 2014.
Unfortunately for Barcelos, Nurmagomedov forgot to read his resume. Nurmagomedov went toe-to-toe with the well-rounded Barcelos only to put a stop to him at the end of the first round. With 20 seconds on the clock, Nurmagomedov connected with a short left to the head and Barcelos toppled to the ground.
The victory not only pushed Nurmagomedov’s UFC record to 4-0 and earned him $50K post-fight, but it reminded fight fans just how good the undefeated prospect is.
For complete UFC Vegas 67 results and coverage click here.