Sean Strickland survives a nasty peek and beats a gassed Abus Magomedov

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JULY 01: (RL) Sean Strickland knocks out Abus Magomedov of Russia in a middleweight bout during UFC Fight Night at UFC APEX on July 01, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Sean Strickland improved to 27-5 with a second-round finish from Abus Magomedov on Saturday at Apex in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Sean Strickland was stung in the eye about 30 seconds into his fight against Abus Magomedov at Apex in Las Vegas on Saturday in the main event of UFC Vegas 76. He considered pulling out because he was seeing double. When the fight resumed, he clearly lost the first round.

Magomedov, in his second UFC appearance after winning his debut in 19 seconds, controlled the fight with his kicks and his hands. Strickland didn’t check many and Magomedov was doing damage.

It was a totally different second round, though. Strickland, ranked seventh at middleweight, dropped his hands more at the start of the second round and began to bring Magomedov down.

Two minutes into the second, Strickland’s combinations had taken their toll. Magomedov’s nose and cheeks were visibly red as he staggered around the cage trying to find a safe place.

Strickland, a very solid relative, never left him once he hurt him. He finished it at 4:20 of the second. A combination of several punches knocked Magomedov down, and Strickland pounced on him and finished him off with hard ground punches. Referee Mark Smith gave Magomedov time to try and stop the onslaught, but Magomedov only turtled and Smith stopped him.

Strickland admitted to interviewer Michael Bisping in the Octagon after the fight that he nearly said he couldn’t continue after the peek. He later said he was still seeing double.

“Man, I almost got pregnant after that one,” Strickland said. “It was pretty deep, guys. There’s a coward in me. There was a coward in me saying, ‘Why don’t we just stop this?’ Then I heard you screaming for me and I was like, ‘We have to do this shit.’ “

And he certainly did.

Round two was all Strickland. He said he knew keeping a fast pace would be a huge factor in his favor.

“Hey, we’ve got five rounds of fun, guys,” Strickland said. “I’m not slowing down. I don’t stop. You want to go for a good first round, wrestle, do some little kicks, bring it on. We have two, three, four and five.

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