After a pitstop in Jacksonville, Fla., last weekend, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to its Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada, for a 12-fight card. In UFC Vegas 76’s main event, Sean Strickland defends his No. 7 Middleweight ranking against the seemingly unknown Abus Magomedov. While UFC Vegas 76 isn’t the strongest card, it has several fun fights and top prospects.
So, before it goes down on ESPN/ESPN+, let’s check out some random storylines, tidbits and statistics ahead of showtime ...
Strickland competes in his third straight main event this weekend. Since moving back to Middleweight in 2020, the perennial 185-pound contender has competed in four main events, with his upcoming headliner spot being his fifth.
He will break the record for most Apex main events at UFC Vegas 76.
Mr.Apex!— Andy Hickey MMA (@AndyHickeyMMA) June 29, 2023
Sean Strickland will set the record for most main events at The UFC Apex this weekend.
That itself tells a story. pic.twitter.com/8meFNt4WHR
If Strickland finishes Magomedov on Saturday or looks dominant, there is a big chance he leapfrogs the winner of Robert Whittaker vs. Dricus Du Plessis — which goes down next weekend at UFC 290 — and competes for the Middleweight title.
UFC wants Israel Adesanya to defend his championship at UFC 293 in Sydney, Australia, in September. And if Du Plessis and Whittaker have a three-round war, it is doubtful that they will be able to turn around so quickly. While yes, Strickland only fights one week earlier, he has proven that he will fight anyone on any schedule.
Uh, Who Is Abus Magomedov?
When Strickland vs. Magomedov was announced, the mixed martial arts (MMA) community scratched their heads. Strickland is coming off a main event win over Nassourdine Imavov, while Magomedov is coming off a win over a 1-3 Dustin Stolfuz (watch highlights).
UFC matchmaker, Mick Maynard, clearly wants to get new contenders inside the Middleweight division, and Magomedov is a fresh fighter. He is 32 years old and has a 25-4-1 record with a 70 percent finish rate.
Both fighters are coming off wins; however, if you were wondering what their last losses were, here you go:
- Strickland lost to Cannonier in the last UFC event of 2022, losing a split decision.
- Magomedov has not lost since 2018, but it was a bad one. He was knocked out in 33 seconds by Louis Taylor in the 2018 PFL Middleweight championship.
Abus Magomedov’s last loss came in the PFL back in 2018 when he was knocked out by Louis Taylorpic.twitter.com/MCXE8desGr— MMA Mania (@mmamania) June 26, 2023
After Damir Ismagulov’s last fight, he announced his retirement, which shocked everyone. He lost to surging contender, Arman Tsayrukan, via unanimous decision, snapping his 19-fight win streak.
At just 32 years old, his decision to retire was wild. However, like many other MMA retirements, it didn’t stick. Ismagulov revealed during his UFC Vegas 76 media day that he could not live without fighting ... so he’s back.
The fighter from Kazakhstan fights Grant Dawson on Saturday.
Pissed Off Max Griffin
Max Griffin returns to action this Saturday against Ecuadoran prospect, Michael Morales, but he was unhappy about the matchup when he signed the contract. During UFC Vegas 76 media day, he revealed he was “offended” when the name came across his desk.
“I’m not going to lie — I was pissed at first,” Griffin told reporters. “I get freaking Michael Morales? I was like, what the hell, what is this? This is bulls—t. He’s a young guy, undefeated. I feel like they were trying to feed me to the wolves.”
While “Pain” isn’t as mad as he was a few months ago, he still feels offended, which is fair.
WELCOME BACK, KEVIN LEE
The “Motown Phenom” is back in UFC after fighting once outside of the organization in Eagle FC. He defeated UFC legend, Diego Sanchez, in the main event of Eagle FC 46, but it was a stinker of a fight.
Unfortunately for Lee, he has a tough task for his return fight as he fights 21-2 Rinat Fakhretdinov, who is 2-0 in the promotion and has looked nothing short of dominant. Lee is also making his return to Welterweight ... speaking of that.
Rinat Fakhretdinov handed Kevin Lee a bracelet and it broke immediately pic.twitter.com/vOLKQxwxtI— MMA Mania (@mmamania) June 30, 2023
0-2 At WW
Lee has not found any success at Welterweight thus far in his career. After spending his entire career at Lightweight, he made his first move to 170 pounds in 2019 against Rafael dos Anjos, but lost via fourth round submission (watch highlights). Lee moved back to Lightweight after losing to “RDA” for two fights, but then returned to Welterweight against Daniel Rodriguez, to which he lost a unanimous decision.
Lee has demanded for years that UFC add a 165-division because, in all honesty, he is too big for 155, but much too small for 170.
Lee On The ‘Prelims’
The last thing about the “Motown Phenom” is that he is the “Prelims undercard “headliner,” which is odd. Lee has been the main event six times in the organization’ however, for a weak Apex card, he is buried on the “Prelims.” MAKE IT MAKE SENSE.
Banger Of The Week
MMAmania.com’s banger of the week for UFC Vegas 76 is a no-brainer. Ismael Bonfim and Benoit Saint-Denis are going to go to war, and I don’t think it will end in a finish.
Bonfim (19-3) turned heads in his UFC debut earlier this year when he flatlined Terrance McKinney in Brazil (watch highlights). He is riding a 13-fight win streak, holds a 68 percent finish rate, and brings it every time.
Saint-Denis (10-1) also turned heads in his UFC debut when he was battered for three rounds in one of the most one-sided beatdowns in UFC history. He has since rebounded and won two straight via finish. He holds a 100 percent finish rate and is one of the toughest Lightweights on the roster.
Enjoy the violence!
Welcome To UFC
Three fighters are making their UFC debuts this week.
- Nursulton Ruziboev (34-8-2) fights Brunno Ferreira to open the main card. He holds a 94% finish rate with 20 submission wins and 12 knockout wins.
- Westin Wilson (16-7) takes on Joanderson Brito on a week’s notice. Wilson holds a 100% finish rate and is one of Stephen Thompson’s training partners.
- Ivana Petrovic (6-0) faces Luana Carolina. Petrovic holds a 73% finish rate and is the ARES Flyweight champion.
The following fighters are coming off more than six-month layoffs.
- Michael Morales: Last in action 7/30/22
- Melissa Gatto: Last in action 5/7/22
- Benoit Saint-Denis: Last in action 9/3/22
- Kevin Lee: Last in action 3/11/22
- Joanderson Brito: Last in action 10/15/22
- Guram Kutateladze: Last in action 6/18/22
Winners And Losers
Seventeen fighters are coming off wins, while seven fighters are coming off losses.
Here are the divisions that will be on display this Saturday:
- One Heavyweight fight
- Two Middleweight fights
- Two Welterweight fights
- Three Lightweight fights
- One Featherweight fight
- Two Bantamweight fights
- Two women’s Flyweight fights
- One women’s Featherweight fight
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 76 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN/ESPN+) at 7 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 76: “Strickland vs. Magomedov” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.