Strickland (27-5 MMA, 14-5 UFC), who defeated Imavov in a five-round main event in January, challenges middleweight champion Adesanya (24-2 MMA, 13-2 UFC) in the UFC 293 headliner on Sept. 9 in Sydney.
Not many are giving Strickland a chance, but after going 25 minutes with him, Imavov (12-4 MMA, 4-2 UFC) isn’t counting him out entirely. However, he still sees Adesanya prevailing. Imavov hopes if Strickland loses, he gets his chance to run things back.
“I don’t think it’s going to be very easy for him,” Imavov said through an interpreter during Q&A on Friday in Paris ahead of UFC Fight Night 226. “I think it’s going to be a really complicated fight. What I will say is that Strickland is a really annoying guy to fight against.
“And the longer the fight goes, if it goes five rounds, it could actually work to Strickland’s favor. However, I don’t think he’s going to win. I think he’s going to come back down the rankings, and I think I’m going to get my shot at a rematch in the future.”
After amassing a three-fight winning streak, Imavov lost to Strickland. The defeat was followed by an unfortunate no contest against Chris Curtis at UFC 289 in June. He will look to rebound when he faces Ikram Aliskerov at UFC 294 on Oct. 21 in Abu Dhabi – a challenge he’s taking very seriously.
“Ikram is an excellent fighter,” Imavov said. “If I’m not mistaken, his record is 14-1. A lot of people consider him to be the future going forwards. It’s a massive challenge for me but you know what? That’s what I want, challenges. So, I’m really pleased and that’s what I look forward to in the future of my career.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 294.