Former interim UFC middleweight title challenger, Kelvin Gastelum is out of his scheduled UFC Vegas 67 headliner against Nassourdine Imavov on January 14. – due to a mouth injury.
As per an initial report from ESPN MMA reporter, Brett Okamoto as per UFC officials, Gastelum has been replaced by middleweight contender, Sean Strickland, who now faces Imavov at a short notice light heavyweight limit on January 14.
“First UFC main event of 2023 has underwent a last-minute change,” Okamoto tweeted. “Gastelum out with a mouth injury, Sean Strickland has agreed to replace him against Imavov. Five rounds, but now 205 pounds per UFC officials. This is now back to back UFC events headlined by Strickland.”
First UFC main event of 2023 has underwent a last minute change. Gastelum out with a mouth injury, Sean Strickland has agreed to replace him against Imavov. Five rounds, but now 205 pounds per UFC officials. This is now back to back UFC events headlined by Strickland. pic.twitter.com/ivg7VXl0qT
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) January 9, 2023
Headlining UFC Vegas 66 just last month in the final promotional event of 2022, Sean Strickland suffered a close, contentious split decision loss against one-time title challenger, Jared Cannonier.
12-3 as a professional, Russian-born middleweight contender, Imavov is currently in the midst of a three-fight winning run, most recently beating Joaquin Buckley, to add to finishes over Edmen Shahbazyan, and Ian Heinisch.
Sean Strickland will attempt to snap a two-fight losing skid
Attempting to snap a run of two consecutive losses, Strickland dropped a stunning first round KO loss against current middleweight champion, Alex Pereira back in July of last year during International Fight Week.
Suffering from five losses in his last six promotional outings, Gastelum dropped back-to-back headliners against former champion, Robert Whittaker, and the aforenoted, Cannonier over the course of 2021.
Touted as a future top-contender at the middleweight limit, Imavov’s sole promotional loss came in a dubious decision defeat against Phil Hawes, following a debut success against Jordan Williams.
Seeing a seven-fight winning run halted against Pereira last summer, the outspoken Strickland most recently defeated Jack Hermansson in a main event tilt last February.
UFC Vegas 67 takes place on January 14. from the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada.