A seasoned Octagon veteran takes on a fresh new contender as the middleweight division takes center stage at UFC Vegas 76.
Sean Strickland will be competing in his 19th UFC bout on Saturday night when he takes on Abus Magomedov, who will be making the walk to the Octagon for only the second time.
The headline bout at the UFC Apex pits one of the most experienced campaigners in the UFC middleweight division against a relative newcomer who is riding an impressive run of form.
Magomedov is 12-1-1 in his last 14 outings, and after three successive fight bookings fell through following his signing in 2021, he eventually made his Octagon debut in September 2022. The performance at UFC Paris saw Magomedov make a big statement as he finished Dustin Stoltzfus with a front kick and punches in just 19 seconds to mark his UFC arrival with a bang.
That win, added to his already impressive resume, convinced the UFC matchmakers to hand Magomedov a shot at ranked opposition in the form of Strickland, who turned back the challenge of surging hot prospect Nassourdine Imavov in his most recent outing. That win put Strickland back in the win column after back-to-back losses against Alex Pereira and Jared Cannonier.
Strickland wants to stay active, and accepted the task of facing Magomedov, who enters the bout with a 25-4-1 record against Strickland’s 26-5.
The co-main event offers a lightweight showcase between two fighters looking to move towards the division’s top 10. Damir Ismagulov is ranked 12th at 155 pounds, but saw his 19-fight win streak snapped by Arman Tsarukyan in his last appearance.
The Kazakh contender now wants to bounce back, and will look to do so against 15th-ranked American Grant Dawson, who is undefeated in his last 11 bouts, a run stretching all the way back to 2016. Both men are looking to pick up a convincing win to earn a shot against top 10 opposition later this year.
The preliminary card will be headed by the returning Kevin Lee, who is set for his second run with the UFC following his departure from the promotion in 2021.
Former lightweight contender Lee now plies his trade at welterweight, and will take on Russia’s Rinat Fakhretdinov, who enters the bout riding a 16-fight win streak. Lee, meanwhile, will look to build on his unanimous decision win over Diego Sanchez from March last year in Eagle FC. His last victory in the Octagon saw Lee produce one of the UFC’s greatest-ever knockouts, a huge head-kick KO of Gregor Gillespie at UFC 244 at Madison Square Garden.
The prelims will also see the Octagon debut of Croatian flyweight and former Ares FC women’s flyweight champion Ivana Petrovic. The 29-year-old is undefeated at 6-0, and faces seasoned opposition in the form of Brazil’s Luana Carolina, who is looking to bounce back from her first career back-to-back losses after defeats to Molly McCann and Joanne Wood.
UFC Vegas 76: Fight card
- Sean Strickland vs. Abus Magomedov
- Damir Ismagulov vs. Grant Dawson
- Max Griffin vs. Michael Morales
- Ariane Lipski vs. Melissa Gatto
- Ismael Bonfim vs. Benoit Saint-Denis
- Nursulton Ruziboev vs. Brunno Ferreira
- Kevin Lee vs. Rinat Fakhretdinov
- Joanderson Brito vs. Westin Wilson
- Yana Santos vs. Karol Rosa
- Guram Kutateladze vs. Elves Brenner
- Ivana Petrovic vs. Luana Carolina
- Alexander Romanov vs. Blagoy Ivanov