Sean Strickland has saved the day.
A New Main Event
Not long after fighting five rounds against Jared Cannonier, the #7 ranked UFC Middleweight contender finds himself in another main event. On Monday, ESPN’s Brett Okamoto reported that Strickland would replace an injured Kelvin Gastelum and take on Nassourdine Imavov.
With Strickland coming in on such short notice, the bout will be contested at 205 lbs instead of 185 lbs.
Gastelum proceeds to be unlucky as this marks his third-straight fight fallout. Just days before his return, the TUF 17 winner suffered an injury to his mouth, which led to his unfortunate withdrawal.
“I’m extremely disappointed to say the least,” Gastelum wrote on his Twitter. “This not how I wanted to start 2023. I worked my ass off & battled through a lot of adversary and was ready to put on a hell of a show this weekend. I apologize to Imavov, his camp as well as @ufc and all the fans. #OnAmission4Gold.”
The Show Goes On
No full-fight camp? That’s no problem for Sean Strickland, who steps in on less than a week’s notice. The UFC veteran looks to bounce back from the first two-fight skid of his career. In his latest outings, Strickland was knocked out by current champ Alex Pereira before losing a close split decision to Jared Cannonier less than a month ago.
Strickland wants to get back to winning ways and that begins with Nassourdine Imavov this weekend.
For Imavov, the Frenchman is now fighting upwards instead of downwards when it comes to the UFC rankings. He’s in a prime position for a top spot in the division if he takes out #7 in Strickland.
If he beats the short-notice replacement, Imavov will also increase his already impressive win-streak to 4, which includes victories over Joaquin Buckley, Edmen Shahbazyan, and Ian Heinisch.