Tag Archives: UFC Vegas 67

UFC Vegas 67: Strickland vs Imavov – Main card predictions

The UFC returns after a month-long absence for it’s first card of 2023, and there has already been drama.

Originally slated to be a middleweight main event between Nassourdine Imavov and Kelvin Gastelum, before Gastelum fell out with a mouth injury during fight week.

He’s now replaced by Sean Strickland, who steps in after his main event defeat to Jared Cannonier in the final card of 2022.

During that even we went 9/13 with five perfect picks to end the year at #UFCVegas66, moving us to 804/1251 (64.27%) with 331 perfect picks (41.17%). You can see our full pick history here.

We’ll look to improve on that here and after starting with the early prelims of the night, and then moving on to the prelims section, we move on to our main card picks now.


Umar Nurmagomedov (15-0) vs Raoni Barcelos (17-3) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A shout for fight of the card in this one to open up the main card. Nurmagomedov is undefeated and claimed a dominant win over Nate Maness in his most recent outing, while Barcelos bounced back from a two-fight losing streak to beat Trevin Jones in his latest fight.

Nurmagomedov by name, but not in style. Umar is a fantastic striker in the bantamweight division, using his kicks well, but still having that legendary grappling in his back pocket when he needs it. Barcelos is one of the most well-rounded fighters in the division who has found his age to be the biggest problem in his career. If Nurmagomedov wants to win this fight, he will absolutely need to use his grappling.

Barcelos has got fantastic jiu-jitsu skills to go along with his violent Muay-Thai, but on his back is where he’s at his least effective. Umar has got good striking to compete, but once he gets top position he can control the fight and work to a decision win in a close and entertaining bout.
PICK – Umar Nurmagomedov via Decision

Ketlen Vieira (13-2) vs Raquel Pennington (14-9) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

An interesting bantamweight scrap up next between two women looking to get into title contention. Vieira is on a two-fight winning streak having beaten former champions Miesha Tate and Holly Holm in her most recent bouts, while Pennington has won her last four, beating Marion Reneau, Pannie Kianzad, Macy Chiasson and Aspen Ladd.

Vieira is a well-rounded fighter with good knockout power and nasty submission skills on the mat too. She’s very aggressive and forward thinking, and will have a size advantage in this bout. Pennington on the other hand is very well rounded too, but she doesn’t have the greatest of finishing instincts and tends to be quite a reactive fighter. That leans the fight into Vieira’s favour undoubtedly.

Pennington will almost certainly look to hold a lot and land the odd strikes to score with the judges, while being defensively solid to give herself a chance. Vieira will press forward and look to mix up her attacks, but if she can score takedowns early then this is her fight to lose. I expect she will be able to do that, and get to a relatively comfortable decision win.
PICK – Ketlen Vieira via Decision

Punahele Soriano (9-2) vs Roman Kopylov (9-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

Bangers at middleweight go head-to-head up next. Soriano bounced back from consecutive defeats to Brendan Allen and Nick Maximov to earn a knockout win over Dalcha Lungiambula last time out, while Kopylov did the same after defeats to Karl Roberson and Albert Duraev with a KO win against Alessio Di Chirico in his last outing at UFC Paris.

Both of these guys see themselves as knockout artists in the short and simple summary, but they have more skills to their name than just that. Soriano is an All-American wrestler in the past too, while Kopylov is a decent grappler himself, especially defensively. There’s no doubt both men are at their best when striking though, with a combined 14 knockout wins in their career.

Both guys are at a similar level, and both fighters are at a similar stage of their career too. Kopylov is the better boxer with decent combinations, and Soriano has got the better cardio and ability to carry his power later in the fight. It will be entertaining for sure, but I think Kopylov should be able to do a bit more with his combinations to secure a decision,
PICK – Roman Kopylov via Decision



Dan Ige (15-6) vs Damon Jackson (22-4-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A really fun and close match up in the featherweight division is the co-main event here. Ige has lost his last three via decision to Korean Zombie, Josh Emmett and Movsar Evloev, while Jackson is on a four-fight win streak beating Charles Rosa, Kamuela Kirk, Dan Argueta and Pat Sabatini in just 79 seconds.

Ige is a striker with decent one-punch knockout power and some solid defensive wrestling too, but he’s on a slide right now. Jackson on the other hand has really developed in the last two years, with fantastic grappling skills and much improved striking earning him a KO last time out. Many people will be thinking Ige is a level up on previous competition, but this is closer than you’d think on paper.

Jackson’s chin is very good for the most part, but it gets tested way too much to take too many shots from Ige. Ige is a very good defensive wrestler and Jackson will have to work really hard to be successful. If he can do that then it’s his fight to lose on the mat, but Ige’s defeats have come against top guys and I do think he should be able to hold off the wrestling threat and land enough on the feet to get back on track.
PICK – Dan Ige via Decision

Sean Strickland (25-5) vs Nassourdine Imavov (12-3) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

Two ranked middleweight fighters compete in a short-notice light heavyweight main event here. Strickland has lost his last two, getting KO’d by the new champion Alex Pereira before dropping a split decision to Jared Cannonier most recently last month, while Imavov has won his last three with knockouts over Ian Heinisch and Edmen Shahbazyan before a decision against Joaquin Buckley.

Strickland is a well-rounded fighter but constantly allows his ego to dictate his game plan. He’s a solid wrestler who never wrestles, instead marching forward with his jab and weaponizing his cardio. Imavov is a very well-rounded fighter with spectacular striking to go with decent wrestling and grappling skills too. Imavov is a really top prospect in this division, and a win here could set him up for a title push in 2023.

Strickland will definitely step forwards and try to assert himself, but Imavov is a very good counter striker and we’ve seen that Strickland definitely trusts his chin rather than using his defence. That is a risky strategy, but with his volume and experience in a five-round fight he could start to pull away in the latter rounds. With that said, Imavov’s movement and speed, plus the fact he’s been in camp for this date, have me leaning towards him in a razor close fight.
PICK – Nassourdine Imavov via Decision

UFC Vegas 67: Strickland vs Imavov – Prelims predictions

The UFC returns after a month-long absence for it’s first card of 2023, and there has already been drama.

Originally slated to be a middleweight main event between Nassourdine Imavov and Kelvin Gastelum, before Gastelum fell out with a mouth injury during fight week.

He’s now replaced by Sean Strickland, who steps in after his main event defeat to Jared Cannonier in the final card of 2022.

During that even we went 9/13 with five perfect picks to end the year at #UFCVegas66, moving us to 804/1251 (64.27%) with 331 perfect picks (41.17%). You can see our full pick history here.

We’ll look to improve on that here and after starting with the early prelims of the night, we move on to the prelims section now.


Allan Nascimento (19-6) vs Carlos Hernandez (8-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

Another flyweight scrap in this one between two relatively experienced guys. Nascimento is 1-1 in the UFC, dropping a split decision to Tagir Ulanbekov before beating Jake Hadley most recently in May 2022. Hernandez on the other hand is on an eight-fight win streak, with a split decision over Victor Altamirano in his UFC debut back in February 2022 in his last fight.

Nascimento is the flyweight version of his countryman Charles Oliveira, that’s the best way to describe him. A stunning jiu-jitsu expert, his striking and wrestling have now caught up to an elite level and he is a genuine problem for the flyweight division. Hernandez is also a well-rounded fighter, with good power and solid scrambles, but his tendency to retreat in straight lines is an issue he must rectify.

Despite his qualities, Nascimento must stay patient in this bout. Expect him to strike early and mix in his wrestling skills control the fight, and then midway through the rounds land a nasty strike to drop Hernandez before pouncing on the neck for his first UFC finish.
PICK – Allan Nascimento via Submission, Round 2

Javid Basharat (13-0) vs Mateus Mendonca (10-0) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Banger at bantamweight between two undefeated prospects at 135-pounds. Basharat has impressed in the UFC with decision wins over Trevin Jones and Tony Gravely so far, while Mendonca makes his promotional debut after a 48 second KO in on the Contender Series back in September.

Basharat is a really slick operator with good grappling, but it’s his excellent striking and movement that stand out when he’s in the cage. Mendonca alternatively is like a bull who has seen red, constantly stepping forward and looking to take his opponent’s head off the whole time. That aggression could go either way, either leaving him looking silly or being the exact reason he gets the win.

But Basharat will comfortably be the best fighter that Mendonca has fought, and his style is designed to avoid getting his head knocked off it’s shoulders. With his experience and ability to mix up in grappling too, he should have too much for the hot prospect in this one.
PICK – Javid Basharat via Decision



Mateusz Rebecki (16-1) vs Nick Fiore (6-0) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Some interesting matchmaking in this one in the lightweight division. Rebecki is on a 13-fight win streak with 11 finishes in that run, including a submission against Rodrigo Lidio on the Contender Series in his most recent outing. Fiore on the other hand is undefeated with six finishes from six wins, including four submissions.

Rebecki is a powerhouse in the stand-up department of the cage, but he’s also got excellent wrestling and some ADCC level grappling too, making him a true threat no matter where this ends up. Fiore is a grappler first and foremost with tantalising jiu-jitsu, but his striking is improving with each outing. The problem he has here is that Rebecki is better than him everywhere.

The Poland native has all the tools to claim a big win here, and add the fact that Fiore is stepping in on just two weeks’ notice, this one is unlikely to last too long. Rebecki gets it done, and quickly.
PICK – Mateusz Rebecki via Knockout, Round 1

Claudio Ribeiro (10-2) vs Abdul Razak Alhassan (11-5) – (Middleweight/185bs)

Very fun middleweight scrap up next as the feature prelim of the event. Ribeiro is on a six-fight win streak with five of those coming as a first-round knockout, including his win over Ivan Valenzuela on the Contender Series most recently. Alhassan has lost four of his last five, with his only win coming in 17 seconds against Alessio Di Chirico. His last bout ended in a split decision loss to Joaquin Buckley.

Both men are absolute powerhouses with scary knockout power, but they’re at different ends of their career seemingly. Ribeiro tends to put his back to the fence and let fly, while Alhassan likes to back his opponent up against the fence and let fly with huge showers of strikes. That’s a recipe for disaster for Ribeiro, but he will be confident of finding Alhassan’s chin.

If the opening minutes don’t end in a KO, then Alhassan will know he can use his judo to slow things down if necessary. Despite that though, it will end early. The question is who lands the kill shot. For me, Ribeiro has a slight speed advantage but he’s never fought someone as scary as “Judo Thunder”. Alhassan’s blitzes will see more than one of his shots land in a row, and that’ll put Ribeiro’s lights out.
PICK – Abdul Razak Alhassan via Knockout, Round 1

UFC Vegas 67: Strickland vs Imavov – Early prelims predictions

The UFC returns after a month-long absence for it’s first card of 2023, and there has already been drama.

Originally slated to be a middleweight main event between Nassourdine Imavov and Kelvin Gastelum, before Gastelum fell out with a mouth injury during fight week.

He’s now replaced by Sean Strickland, who steps in after his main event defeat to Jared Cannonier in the final card of 2022.

During that even we went 9/13 with five perfect picks to end the year at #UFCVegas66, moving us to 804/1251 (64.27%) with 331 perfect picks (41.17%). You can see our full pick history here.

We’ll look to improve on that here, starting with the early prelims of the night.


Priscila Cachoeira (12-4) vs Sijara Eubanks (8-7) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

The first fight of the year is a fun flyweight scrap in the women’s division. Cachoeira is on a two-fight win streak, beating Ji Yeon Kim via decision before knocking out Ariane Lipski most recently in the first round. Eubanks on the other hand has lost three of her last four, including her most recent bout to Melissa Gatto back in December 2021.

Cachoeira is a well-rounded fighter who prefers to stand-up, mainly because her takedown defence is essentially non-existent. Eubanks is a fantastic boxer, but her Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills are very good too, which is almost certainly where she’s going to try to take this bout. But despite her skillset, she’s never been able to put it all together.

That’s because her cardio is horrible and after about a round and a half, she starts to drop her hands and slow all the way down. If Cachoeira can survive the initial onslaught on the mat, which she should considering Eubanks has never won via submission, then she should be able to get to her feet in the latter stages and beat her up enough to claim the win.
PICK – Priscila Cachoeira via Decision

Charles Johnson (12-3) vs Jimmy Flick (16-5) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

An intriguing men’s flyweight bout up next. Johnson bounced back from defeat to Muhammad Mokaev by earning a controversial split decision over Zhalgas Zhumagulov most recently. Flick is on a four-fight win streak but retired after his most recent bout in December 2020. This is his return fight after four-straight submission wins.

Johnson is a wrestler first and foremost, who looks to control opponents and work his ground and pound to claim victories. Flick is also a grappler, but he is a very serious submission specialist with phenomenal jiu-jitsu skills on the mat. The short-notice view of this bout should see Johnson as a relatively heavy favourite, but skill-for-skill it’s close.

You cannot rule out a Flick submission in the early rounds, but as the fight goes on it leans more towards Johnson’s favour. He should be able to win any striking exchanges and with the wrestling he will be able to fight his way up to his feet too. It’ll be closer than the odds suggest, but on short notice I think Johnson can claim the decision win.
PICK – Charles Johnson via Decision



Dan Argueta (8-1) vs Nick Aguirre (7-0) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

Two guys looking for a first UFC win in this one in another short-notice match up. Argueta was defeated in his UFC debut by Damon Jackson last time out, while Aguirre has split his seven wins with three KO’s and four submissions to have a 100% finish rate. He steps in for Isaac Dulgarian during fight week.

Argueta was the number one pick for Brian Ortega in the Ultimate Fighter recently, but got beaten by eventual winner Ricky Turcios in the opening round. He is a super well-rounded fighter with six finishes in his eight wins, including four submissions. He’s a solid grappler with decent power too. Aguirre is a very aggressive fighter who is comfortable wherever the fight goes, but his preference will certainly be grappling.

Considering the way Jackson dominated Argueta in the grappling department, and how undersized he looks in the division, there is a chance for an upset. With that said though, Aguirre’s level of competition to date is poor and this is a short-notice bout against someone better than he’s ever faced before. On a full camp he’d have a better shot, but as it stands I expect Argueta to be able to get it done.
PICK – Dan Argueta via Decision