UFC Fight Night 217 results: Sean Strickland Outpoints Nassourdine Imavov

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LAS VEGAS—Stepping in on less than one week’s notice, Sean Strickland impressed in a five-round decision victory over fellow middleweight contender Nassourdine Imavov.

Contested at light heavyweight due to Strickland’s short-notice addition—replacing an injured Kelvin Gastelum—the matchup served as the main event of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 217 event at the UFC Apex.

Imavov opened quickly at the start of the bout, pumping out a quick jab and chopping at the legs. Strickland kept his hands high, rolling with the punches and looking to counter with straight shots down the middle, but it was Imavov who was setting the tone by leaping in and out of range and connecting with the heavier punches.

As the round wore on, Strickland picked up the pace and began to rifle off a few big right hands that found the mark, and the two engaged in several spirited exchanges until the bell.

At the start of the second, Strickland’s cornerman and fellow UFC middleweight Chris Curtis urged him to push the pace, insisting Imavov was already tiring. Strickland responded with an aggressive pace, moving forward with flurries of punches. Imavov was forced to fight largely on the back foot, and while he was able to find brief moments of offense, the momentum seemed to favor Strickland.

Strickland remained the aggressor in the third, pushing forward with straight punches and kicks up the middle. Imavov eventually looked to change levels and drive the action to the canvas, but Strickland easily pushed him aside and kept the action upright. The two went back and forth in the standup game for the remainder of the round, though it seemed like Strickland was getting the best of each exchange.

Imavov pushed forward to start the fourth, but Strickland defended well and quickly went back on the attack. Utilizing straight punches down the middle, kicks to the body, and holding control in the occasional clinch saw him gain firm control of the contest and visibly frustrated Imavov.

Imavov’s corner pleaded with him to hunt the knockout in the final frame, and he did his best to oblige, turning up his volume and throwing punches at full power. However, Strickland was happy to parry and return fire before clinching and driving his opponent to the cage. With time certainly not on his side, Imavov did his best to return to the center and and mount an attack, ripping off punches, elbows and knees from all angles, but Strickland was able to smother the attacks and continue returning fire to the end, where he was awarded a unanimous decision, 49-46, 49-46 and 48-47.

“I questioned my cardio a little bit for a second, but then I remembered that I’ve got big ole metaphorical nuts and I can fight 25 minutes,” Strickland said after the win. “I can fight an hour, and I f—— love you guys. Let’s go.”

Strickland (26-5 MMA, 13-5 UFC), who entered the matchup at No. 7 in the UFC’s official middleweight rankings, snapped a two-fight losing streak with the result.

Meanwhile, Imavov (12-4 MMA, 4-2 UFC), who was ranked No. 12, sees a three-fight win streak come to an end.


Main Card Results (ESPN+)

  • Sean Strickland def. Nassourdine Imavov via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 48-47)
  • Dan Ige def. Damon Jackson via knockout (punch) – Round 2, 4:13
  • Roman Kopylov def. Punahele Soriano via TKO (kick, punches) – Round 2, 3:19
  • Raquel Pennington def. Ketlen Vieira via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
  • Umar Nurmagomedov def. Raoni Barcelos via knockout (punch) – Round 1, 4:40



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