Strickland makes case for title shot at UFC Fight Night

Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
Sean Strickland defeated Abus Magomedov in the main event of UFC Fight Night: Strickland vs. Magomedov at UFC Apex on Saturday.

LAS VEGAS — Sean Strickland made his latest case to be considered both a top-5 fighter and a middleweight title contender, after defeating Abus Magomedov at 4:20 of the second round in the main event of UFC Fight Night: Strickland vs. Magomedov at UFC Apex on Saturday.

“We know Izzy is on [expleitive] repeat. They tried to bring a boost,” he said. “Every time they try to bring new blood … I sent them back. Give me the [expletive] title. I deserve it.”

After a slow first round, which included an extended timeout due to an eye poke, Strickland turned it up i, taking advantage of a visibly tired Magomedov. Stricklnad strung together multiple punching combinations, eventually finishing Magomedov via TKO at 4:20 of the second round.

“He wanted to go home,” Strickland said. “He quit, man. Again, I don’t want to throw shade at him. He’s a solid guy. He’s a nice guy. I’m ready to die. I’ll die in here. If you don’t have that mindset, don’t fight me.”

In a lightweight bout between two top-15 fighters, Grant Dawson (15) defeated Damir Ismagulov (12) via unanimous decision (30-26 and 30-27 x2). Dawson controlled all three rounds, taking down Ismagulov repeatedly. Dawson’s takedowns allowed him to take control of Ismagulov’s back, pepper him with punches, and attempt numerous rear-naked chokes. 

“I am my harshest critic, but you can not be upset with a win against Damir,” Dawson said. “I knew what could happen. Then when things start to go your way, it just goes to show the improvements I made. Everything was about showing the UFC that they could put me in these high-level fights against guys I was an underdog against and I can pull off these wins. I’m not just squeaking out these wins. I can perform when they put me in these positions.”

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JULY 01: (L-R) Grant Dawson punches Damir Ismagulov of Russia in a lightweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on July 01, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

It was Dawson’s third win in a row, inching him closer to top 10 status in the lightweight division.

“These are the best guys in the world in the top weight class in the world,” Dawson said. “There is not a harder weight class than 155.”

24-year-old Michael Morales made a case for a spot in the welterweight top 15, remaining undefeated with a unanimous decision (30-27 all scorecards) victory over Max Griffin.  In a women’s flyweight bout, Ariane Lipski took home a split decision over Melissa Gatto (30-27, 29-28, 28-29). 

Benoit Saint Denis submitted Ismael Bonfim with a rear-naked choke at 4:48 of the first round. It was Saint Denis’s ninth submission victory in his career, and third consecutive victory in the lightweight division. 

In the opening bout of the main card, middleweight Nursulton Ruziboev handed Brunno Ferreira his first career loss. Ruziboev caught a kick, delivered a straight right hand and finished the fight at 1:17 of the first round.

Preliminary Bouts Results

  • WELTERWEIGHT: Rinat Fakhretdinov def. Kevin Lee via submission (guillotine choke) at 0:55 of Round 1.
  • FEATHERWEIGHT: Joanderson Brito def. Westin Wilson via TKO (strikes) at 2:54 of Round 1.
  • WOMEN’S FEATHERWEIGHT: Karol Rosa (9) def. Yana Santos (6) via split decision (28-29, 29-28 x2).
  • LIGHTWEIGHT: Elves Brener def. Guram Kutateladze via TKO (strikes) at 3:17 of Round 3.
  • WOMEN’S FLYWEIGHT: Luana Carolina def. Ivana Petrovic via unanimous decision (29-28 all scorecards). 
  • HEAVYWEIGHT: Alexandr Romanov (14) def. Blagoy Ivanov (15) via unanimous decision (30-27 all scorecards).