UFC Vegas 76: Strickland vs. Magomedov Main Event Prediction
UFC VEGAS 76: STRICKLAND VS. MAGOMEDOV MAIN EVENT PREDICTION – Many looked down upon this main event fight due to the unknown of the B-side, but I think most will be surprised at how fun this fight can turn out to be and how a dark horse in the middleweight division could emerge.
The next middleweight title shot is dependent on the Robert Whittaker vs. Dricus Du Plessis fight. That matchup takes place next month, but the winner of this fight could easily have his number called next.
Sean Strickland looks to get a winning streak going and assert his name back into title talks.
Abus Magomedov wants to capture his 26th professional victory, extend his winning streak to four, all while impressing the UFC fan base and jump onto their radar.
Will the relentless forward pressure and constant punches from Strickland get him the win again? Or will Magomedov make a splash at the top of the division and pull off the upset? Read on to see how these high-level middleweights matchup and whether the heavy line movement in favor of Magomedov is warranted.
COVID-era Strickland has been one of the most surprising developments over the last three years.
From 2014-2018, Strickland was a welterweight who had some very solid potential and had put together a 7-3 record. Consequently, his only losses came against Ponzinibbio, Usman, and Zaleski. Those are some heavy hitters.
However, he was involved in a motorcycle accident that sidelined him with injuries for two years. He returned as a middleweight and went on a tear. He won five straight fights until running into Alex Pereira in a number one contender’s match last year.
His pressure striking style of constantly moving forward and throwing output frustrated and broke guys. Not many fighters were able to keep up with him.
I remember being heavily invested in him in his return fight against Jack Marshman and was begging for him to drag the fight to the mat and utilize his BJJ brown belt; however, he was content with letting his hands go and overwhelming the power-puncher and beating him by decision.
Since COVID, Strickland has been very outspoken, almost to a fault, but we can’t deny how good of a fighter he is especially with the performances he’s been putting on and results he’s been getting.
Born in the same region of the work as UFC legend, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Magomedov moved to Germany in his teens and has since been training there.
He has 30 fights to lend to his experience and he has faced so many different levels of fighters. Magomedov even made it to the finals of the 2018 PFL season, but ultimately came up short against Louis Taylor from a very low-percentage knockout in the opening minute.
He was a -350 favorite going into that fight. Since 2016 he is 12-1-1 with many of those wins coming by finish, including his 19 second UFC debut back in September.
As you would expect with his last name, he has a smooth and crushing wrestling game when he needs it.
However, he primarily leans on his distance striking game to keep his opponents at bay and follows up with big shots to knock them out. His kicks are vicious, as we’ve seen time and time again.
The main aspect he’s missing is experience against high level UFC guys. Magomedov is presented with that opportunity this weekend. I think he has all the skills, experience, and talent to make a run to the top of the division, it just depends on if he can make it count now that the moment has arrived.
I originally expected to lean on the UFC experience and relentless style of Strickland. However, I think Magomedov has the perfect style to combat Strickland’s pressure.
Strickland’s striking defense could use some work, as we saw in the Pereira fight, but for the most part he does a decent job of rolling with punches and taking the brunt of the power off shots.
I think he will struggle to keep the power away against taller and bigger fighters, like Magomedov is. I don’t know if it will translate into a finish, but I think Magomedov can land more significant strikes throughout the fight while mixing in takedowns at opportune moments.