UFC Fight Night: Strickland vs. Imavov Preview & Best Bets

A top-15 light heavyweight bout headlines UFC Fight Night 217 as No. 7  Sean Strickland faces No. 12 Nassourdine Imavov.

  • Date: Saturday, January 14, 2023 | Time: 4:00 p.m. ET
  • Venue: UFC Apex – Enterprise, Nevada | TV: ESPN+

Women’s Bantamweight Contenders Match?

What’s a girl got to do to get a title shot? Ketlen Vieira is probably asking herself that question. She’s strung together two-straight wins over two of the most recognizable women’s fighters of all time, Holly Holm and Miesha Tate, and also holds wins over Sara McMann and Cat Zingano.

However, Raquel Pennington stands in her way, winning four straight fights against Aspen Ladd, Macy Chiasson, Pannie Kianzad, and Marion Reneau. Vieira will have a one-inch height and a half-an-inch reach advantage. Both average close to 15 minutes of average fight time and zero knockdowns.

Pennington lands an average of 0.80 more significant strikes per minute and absorbs 0.72 fewer. Vieira averages half a takedown more per 15 minutes and has an impressive 92 percent takedown defense rate. This fight will likely be a grind, which should favor Pennington, but Vieira is very physically strong.

At +100, the value lies with Pennington in what should be a close bout.

50K of Action

No. 13 ranked featherweight Dan “50K” Ige takes on unranked Damon “Action” Jackson. This bout will measure where Jackson fits within the division. Action Jackson has won four straight, while Ige has lost three in a row. Ige’s three losses were against Chan Sung Jung, Josh Emmett, and Movsar Evloev, all former or potential future title contenders.

Meanwhile, Jackson’s wins over Charles Rosa, Kamuela Kirk, Daniel Argueta, and Pat Sabatini are quality but not the same caliber. Jackson enters four inches taller, but both fighters have a 71-inch reach. Ironically, Ige should push the action, while Jackson will have a significant takedown advantage.

The difference in their striking ability isn’t substantial enough to account for Jackson’s grappling advantage.

At +100, side with Jackson.

UFC Light Heavyweight Main Event

  • Sean Strickland vs. Nassourdine Imavov
  • Odds to Win:  Strickland -113 | Imavov -113
  • How Will Fight End: KO/TKO +125 | Submission +430 | Decision +110
  • Will the fight go the distance? Yes +118 | No -164

Kelvin Gastelum was supposed to face Nassourdine “Russian Sniper” Imavov in a middleweight bout but withdrew due to injury. Sean “Tarzan” Strickland steps in as the contest moves to light heavyweight. Strickland represents a more formidable challenge for Imavov but enters on short notice and after losing a split decision to Jared Cannonier in December.

Imavov will have a two-inch height advantage but gives up an inch in reach. Imavov is riding a three-fight win streak and has won four of his five UFC bouts. Strickland averages 0.26 knockdowns per 15 minutes, while Imavov secures 45 percent of his wins by KO/TKO.

Both fighters have an impressive output, Strickland landing 5.59 significant strikes per minute to Imavov’s 4.08. However, Imavov absorbs far fewer strikes at 2.43 to Strickland’s 4.18. Tarzan will have a slight takedown advantage, but the Russian Sniper averages 2.12 more submissions per 15 minutes.

Both fighters are -113 to win, but Imavov has value at +380 to win by decision.

UFC Fight Night: Strickland vs. Imavov Betting Card

  • Pennington to win (+100)
  • Jackson to win (+100)
  • Imavov by decision (+380)