Sean Strickland’s gamble to accept a short-notice fight against Nassourdine Imavov tonight at UFC Fight Night 217 paid off as he got back to winning ways with a gritty, grinding striking performance to win by decision.
The first main event of the year is underway in Las Vegas.
Nice jab to the body from Imavov. Leg kick for Strickland. Hook from Imavov. Punch gets through for Strickland.
Strickland pressing forward, but Imavov lands a hook. Hard right hand over the top from Imavov. He looks to land again.
Strickland with a one-two. Now a body kick from him. Another right hand over the top from Imavov.
Another body kick for Strickland. left hand for the short-notice fighter. Now an inside leg kick. Imavov steps forward with punches.
Imavov with a nice uppercut. Punch lands for Strickland. Strickland connects again and backs up Imavov.
Strickland throwing caution to the wind with a big overhand that misses and then goes into the clinch.
They don’t stay there long though. Body kick for Imavov. He lunges into a punch that misses. Both men winging big punches that miss.
Strickland marching forward confidently. Imavov looks to engage and Strickland responds with a combination of punches.
Front kick to the body from Imavov. Final exchange of the round but both men fail to find the target with their punches.
Leg kick from Imavov. Another leg kick for him and Strickland lands a jab. Push kick from Strickland. Glancing jab from Imavov as Strickland presses forward.
left hand for Strickland and now into the clinch against the cage. They break apart after a bit of a stalemate.
Strickland throwing hard with a combo as Imavov was also trying to counter. Jab lands for Strickland. Nice glancing uppercut and hook from Strickland. Imavov lands a punch of his own.
Hard one-two from Imavov. Push kick for Strickland. Missed punch from Imavov and Strickland pounces on a takedown that he lands, but Imavov stands immediately. Strickland walks him over to the cage.
Strickland backs off. Hooks from Imavov. Glancing one-two from Strickland. Imavov misses big on an overhand.
Strickland clinches up and walks over to the cage. Not doing much with it though and Imavov lands a hook as he breaks free.
Back in the center of the Octagon they look to trade. A big left and right for Imavov. He looks for more and Strickland plays spoiler by clinching up again and going to the cage. Imavov lands an elbow as they break apart before the round ends.
Push kick to the body from Strickland. He lands a nice hook and another punch behind it. Now Imavov with heavy hooks getting through.
Strickland with a solid combo. He tries a head kick that’s blocked. Imavov working for the jab and then lands it to the body.
Left hook from Imavov. Jab for Strickland. Another jab for him. Body kick. Another jab gets through. Strickland going forward relentlessly. Imavov dives in on a takedown but doesn’t get it.
Jab from Strickland splitting the guard. Leg kick for imavov. Push kick from Strickland. Now a body kick from him.
One-two for Strickland. Body punch from Imavov. Body kick for Imavov. Jab for Strickland. Exchange of push kicks.
Overhand right from Imavov, but Strickland lands a counter. Strickland with an inside leg kick. He lands a push kick.
Nice body punch from Imavov. Body kick for Strickland. Clinch from Strickland, but Imavov starts to walk him over to the cage and they break apart.
Low kick for Strickland and on from Imavov in return. A few glancing blows exchanged at relatively close range.
Body-head combo for Strickland. He land upstairs now. Missed punch from Imavov. Nice left from Strickland that stuffed Imavov’s own offense.
left hook and a grazing right from Imavov. Solid jab for Strickland. Now a jab from Imavov. One-two for Strickland.
Right hand for Strickland. Combo from Imavov finds the target. Jabs from Strickland. Good right hand for Strickland. He tries to step into a couple of harder punches but doesn’t land and Imavov tried to initiate a takedown while he was off-balance without success.
Instead, Strickland clinches up against the cage. Imavov turns into him and they break apart.
One-two for Strickland. Stiff jab from Strickland. Imavov trying to load up on a strike, but Strickland continues to be hard to hit upstairs.
Punches being thrown but without much in the way of clean connection. Strickland does land a nice right hand now. Kick to the body.
Lots of near misses from Imavov as he tries to get something going but without success. One-two from Strickland.
Imavov’s coaches tell him he needs a finish to win in the final round.
Jab for Strickland. Now a push kick. He paws out with the jab. Another push kick to maintain a little distance. Imavov trying to get something going but Strickland elusive.
Strickland clinches up and goes to the cage. Knee to the body from Imavov. Imavov lands an elbow as he breaks away now.
Strickland again into the clinch up against the cage. They break and Imavov lands a right hand. Strickland with a punch, but Imavov works a one-two.
Strickland clinching again. Imavov tries to go for the thai clinch, but nothing doing. They break free. Grazing punches being thrown. Right hand partly gets through for Imavov.
Strickland back to his clinch strategy. Imavov breaks free with a right hook. less than 90 seconds remaining and Strickland briefly into the clinch again.
Now Imavov in the clinch and walks Strickland over to the cage and tries for a trip that doesn’t work out.
IN close Imavov lands a knee. He tries to keep the pressure on and lands a glancing hook. Strickland trying to clinch, but Imavov keeping him at arms length.
Strickland lands a punch. Imavov works to the body. Strickland with a missed overhand as he swings wild before the final horn.
Strickland drew Imavov into his game on the feet here, landing the cleaner strikes and stifling much of his opponent’s offense, while mixing in clinch work later in the fight to work his way to a unanimous decision victory (49-46 x2, 48-47).