Sean Strickland finds himself front and center on a UFC poster again much sooner than anyone could have expected.
The middleweight contender headlines UFC Vegas 67 this Saturday after stepping in on less than a week’s notice to replace Kelvin Gastelum vs. Nassourdine Imavov. That makes it back-to-back main events for Strickland, who closed out 2022 with a split decision loss to Jared Cannonier at UFC Vegas 66 on Dec. 17, which also took place at UFC APEX.
On Wednesday, a new poster for the promotion’s first event of 2023 was released.
Our new main event matchup!
— UFC (@ufc) January 11, 2023
Strickland currently holds the No. 11 at middleweight in the MMA Fighting Global Rankings, with Imavov a few spots behind at No. 14.
After sustaining an injury to the mouth, Gastelum had to pull out of the fight. He shared video of the surgery required to address the injury shortly after news broke that he would not be competing on Saturday.
With his quick turnaround, Strickland becomes the first fighter to headline consecutive UFC events since Tito Ortiz did so in 2001 with UFC 32 and UFC 33 (it should be noted that there was a three-month gap between those events compared to one month between UFC Vegas 66 and UFC Vegas 67).
In 2020, Deiveson Figueiredo headlined UFC pay-per-views in consecutive months with flyweight title fights at UFC 255 and UFC 256, though there were a pair of fight night events in between.
With a new opponent standing in his way, Imavov hopes to continue his three-fight winning streak. Most recently, Imavov defeated Joaquin Buckley by unanimous decision at UFC Paris.
See the updated UFC Vegas 67 lineup below.
Main Card (ESPN+, 7 p.m. ET)
Sean Strickland against Nassourdine imavov
Dan Ige and Damon Jackson
Punahele Soriano vs. Roman Kopylov
Ketlen Vieira vs. Raquel Pennington
Umar Nurmagomedov vs. Raoni Barcelos
Preliminaries (ESPN+, 4 p.m. ET)
Claudio Ribeiro vs. Abdul Razak Alhassan
Mateusz Rebecki vs. Nick Fiore
Javid Basharat vs. Mateus Mendonca
Allan Nascimento vs. Carlos Hernandez
Daniel Argueta vs. Nick Aguirre
Charles Johnson vs. Jimmy Flick
Priscila Cachoeira vs. Sijara Eubanks