The first UFC fight card of 2023 features ranked middleweight sluggers as veteran contender Sean Strickland meets rising prospect Nassourdine Imavov in the main event of UFC Fight Night: Strickland vs. Imavov. Their showdown tops the main UFC card (7 p.m. ET) from the promotion’s Apex facility in Las Vegas. The No. 7-ranked Strickland is filling in on short notice for fellow veteran Kelvin Gastelum, who withdrew from the matchup last week because of an injury suffered in training camp. Strickland is coming off a split-decision loss to Jared Cannonier just four weeks ago. The No. 12-ranked Imavov is considered a versatile and promising prospect who will be making his headlining debut.
Strickland and Imavov are both offered at -110 (risk $110 to win $100) in the latest UFC Fight Night: Strickland vs. Imavov odds from Caesars Sportsbook. In the co-main event, featherweight prospects take the cage as veteran Dan Ige (-120) faces Damon Jackson (+100). Before locking in any UFC Fight Night: Strickland vs. Imavov picks of your own, make sure you check out the MMA predictions and betting advice from SportsLine expert Kyle Marley.
Marley won the first-ever “ToutMaster” UFC betting contest sponsored by MMAOddsBreaker and appears regularly on multiple MMA betting and daily Fantasy shows. He watches every single fight for every professional MMA card and does extensive research before each event.
Over the past four years, $100 bettors who have followed Marley’s picks are up nearly $12,000. Last year, the accomplished MMA analyst launched the UFC season in January by advising SportsLine members to back Calvin Kattar (+200) against Giga Chikadze (-240) in the featherweight main event. Kattar’s lopsided unanimous-decision victory gave Marley’s followers another easy winner. Anyone who has followed him has seen massive returns.
Now, with UFC Fight Night: Strickland vs. Imavov in sight, Marley has studied the UFC fight card from top to bottom and revealed his top selections. Marley’s UFC Fight Night picks are only available at SportsLine.
UFC Fight Night: Strickland vs. Imavov preview
Many fighters claim they will accept any opponent at any time, but Strickland (25-5) is one of the rare few whose actions support this sentiment. The brawler is just four weeks removed from a five-round main event against Cannonier on the last UFC card of 2022. Strickland dropped a disputed split decision but maintained his position in the rankings.
Strickland has also flourished amid similar circumstances. During the peak of the pandemic, he fought twice in a two-week span and won both handily. After winning a decision over veteran Jack Marshman in October, he stepped up two weeks later and knocked out celebrated prospect Brendan Allen. The 31-year-old Californian cracked the top five in the UFC rankings last year but has yet to achieve a title shot.
Now, he faces another prized prospect in Imavov, who is looking to gain ground in the UFC rankings amid a top-heavy middleweight division. The 27-year-old Russian has gained notice for his slick athleticism and competence in both the stand-up and ground-game disciplines.
Imavov (12-3) has five knockouts and four submissions among his 12 professional MMA victories. He has won four of five outings since joining the UFC in October 2020. He fought just once last year and took a decision over fellow prospect Joaquin Buckley in September. You can only see who to pick at UFC Fight Night here.
UFC Fight Night predictions
We’ll share one of Marley’s UFC Fight Night selections here: He is siding with Sijara Eubanks (-240) to get the better of Priscila Cachoeira (+200) in a matchup of women’s flyweights.
Eubanks (7-7) is a five-year UFC veteran who has gone 3-3 in her last six outings against upper-level competition. She hasn’t fought since a third-round stoppage loss against Melissa Gatto in December 2021.
Cachoeira (12-4) is a power puncher who has won four of her last five fights. She is looking to build on a first-round stoppage of Ariane Lipski in August.
“Eubanks deserves to be the favorite because she is a solid grappler. If she can get takedowns, Cachoeira won’t have much to offer,” Marley told SportsLine. See who else to back here.
How to make UFC Fight Night picks
Marley also has strong picks for UFC Fight Night: Strickland vs. Imavov and every other bout on the UFC Fight Night card. He’s also backing a fighter who “will have the striking edge in a tight matchup” to emerge with a big victory. Marley’s picks and MMA analysis are only available at SportsLine.
Who wins UFC Fight Night: Strickland vs. Imavov? And how exactly does each fight end? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed picks on every fight at UFC Fight Night, all from the incomparable expert who’s up nearly $12,000 on MMA in the past four years, and find out.