UFC Vegas 67 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Sean Strickland vs. Nassourdine Imavov: Take Plus-money in Close Matchup (Saturday, January 14)
Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC fighter Sean Strickland
- The first UFC main event of 2023 featured a late change with late replacement Sean Strickland stepping in to fight Nassourdine Imavov.
- Strickland also headlined the final UFC event of 2022, but is the quick turnaround a cause for concern?
- Below, Billy Ward shares his betting angle for the five-round light-heavyweight fight.
Sean Strickland vs. Nassourdine Imavov Odds
|Over/Under||4.5 (+105 / -135)|
|Venue||UFC Apex in Las Vegas|
|Time||9 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Friday and via Caesars.|
Sean Strickland finds himself in the rare position of headlining consecutive UFC cards as he steps up on short notice to fight middleweight Nassourdine Imavov in the UFC Vegas 67 main event on Saturday.
Imavov originally was slated to fight Kelvin Gastelum before an injury forced the latter off the card. This is now technically a light heavyweight fight – Imavov agreed to a change in weight class to accommodate Strickland – but it will have repercussions for the middleweight rankings.
Strickland will be looking to return to his winning ways, having now dropped consecutive fights following a six-fight winning streak. For Imavov, this is a chance to prove he belongs among the top of the middleweight division.
Tale of the Tape
|Avg. Fight Time||13:49||12:36|
|Weight (pounds)||204 lbs.||194 lbs.|
|Date of birth||2/27/1991||3/1/1995|
|Sig Strikes Per Min||5.59||4.08|
|SS Absorbed Per Min||4.18||2.43|
|Take Down Avg||1.09||0.95|
Stylistically, this matchup is more of the same for Strickland. Both of his last two fights – against Jared Cannonier and now-champion Alex Pereira – were against fellow strikers, and both took place almost exclusively standing.
While Pereira violently knocked him out, Strickland dropped a very close split decision to Cannonier, whom he outstruck, 152-141. Of course, judges are looking for damage, not volume, which has been a problem for Strickland lately.
He fights with a very safe style that keeps him out of danger for the most part, but he doesn’t lead to many impactful shots. That leads to a lot of decisions – and a lot of close calls either way.
Fortunately for Strickland, that style is far less taxing from a cardio standpoint than fighting more aggressively. This is a five-round fight that he took on short notice, but he shouldn’t have any major cardio concerns.
— UFC (@ufc) January 13, 2023
Imavov, meanwhile, is 4-1 in the UFC, including a current three-fight winning streak against increasingly difficult competition. The Russian-born fighter’s style reflects his French training more than his Russian birthplace, as he’s an aggressive striker who only sporadically mixes in takedowns.
He has two finishes – both knockouts – in his four UFC wins, so it’s reasonable to say he has the power edge here. However, we’ve yet to see him in a five-round fight, so cardio is a question mark. For what it’s worth, he lost the third round on two of three scorecards in his most recent fight, a win over Joaquin Buckley.
Finally, the grappling edge should go to Strickland here. No fighter in the UFC has a wider gap between grappling ability and willingness to use it than Strickland. While there’s no real reason to think he’s more likely to use it this time than in prior fights, he’s got the edge if it goes that route – especially since he weighed in 10 pounds heavier than Imavov.
Strickland vs. Imavov Pick
At this point in Strickland’s career, he’s a tough fighter to bet on. Due to his style, he’s going to find himself involved in a lot of tricky decisions. Judges have to weigh his output against the power coming back at him, even if Strickland’s excellent striking defense means he isn’t feeling much of it.
However, Strickland’s moved to solidly plus-money odds throughout the industry for this one. There’s a lot to like about him at that price, including his size advantage, as well as the grappling upside he has in his pocket.
With the likeliest outcome being a somewhat hard-to-score decision, I’m taking Strickland at plus money here. Close fights are essentially coin flips once they get to the judges, so I want the side of the coin that pays out the most. I’d take it down to +105.
Additionally, I like the over 4.5 rounds and fight goes to a decision props. Strickland’s defense should carry him across the finish line, with his additional size giving him a chance to wall and stall if needs be. Both can be had at slightly plus-money, but shop around for the best price.
The Pick: Sean Strickland (+115 at Caesars)