It has been a wild calendar year in the UFC, and the promotion has one final event to close out 2022 – UFC Vegas 66. Headlining the night are middleweight contenders Jared Cannonier and Sean Strickland in a key contest atop the division between the third and seventh position respectively. Both entering fight off of a loss their last time out, the two fighters are looking to finish the year in striking distance of the belt. Serving as the co-main event of the evening is an intriguing top-15 matchup at lightweight with No.9 Arman Tsarukyan taking No.12 Damir Ismagulov in a battle that is almost sure to go the distance as there have been just two UFC finishes between them combined.
Watch UFC Vegas 66
- When: Saturday, December 17, 2022
- Prelims Start Time: 4 p.m. EST / 1 p.m. PST
- Main Card Start Time: 7 p.m. EST / 4 p.m. PST
- Location: UFC APEX – Las Vegas, Nevada
- Stream UFC Vegas 66: ESPN+
Making the final UFC debut of 2022 is Alessandro Costa who won his fight this July on Dana White’s Contender Series, and he’s starting off right away with a top-10 opponent at flyweight in No. 8 Amir Albazi. At 11-2-0, Costa is riding a seven-fight winning streak and will be put to test against Albazi who is a perfect 3-0 in the UFC. Kicking off the main card, Cody Brundage will sneak one more fight in this year after his opponent backed out of the UFC Vegas 65 card. He steps in to fill the void left opposite Michal Oleksiejczuk after Albert Duraev dropped off the card two weeks ago.
Main Event Preview
Strickland (25-4-0) and Cannonier (15-6-0) were both on the main card this July at UFC 276 in Las Vegas, though they faced different opponents. Cannonier was in that night’s headliner opposite Israel Adesanya, fighting for the division title. Strickland was two fights earlier against Alex Pereira, hoping to secure a spot against the winner of the main event for a shot at the championship himself. The two had completely different nights.
At UFC 276, Strickland was on the wrong end of a Performance of the Night. Halfway through the first round, Pereira, who had been headhunting through the opening minutes, caught Strickland with a brutal left hook and followed with a right to knock him out. The finish subsequently dropped Strickland from the top five, snapping a six-fight winning streak in the process. Fortunately, a win against a top-three opponent in Cannonier could allow him to bounce right back for a potential rematch with Pereira in 2023, this time for the title that Pereira now holds. Of course, first things first.
Cannonier isn’t going to be an easy out, something he proved in his title fight with Adesanya at UFC 276. Though the scorecards went unanimously in favor of “The Last Stylebender”, “Tha Killa Gorilla” was able to steal the third round on two of them. The loss surprisingly didn’t drop Cannonier too far as he has now lost two of his last four contests. Still, the rest of his resume speaks for itself with a high pedigree of opponents and 10 professional wins by knockout.
A five-round contest between Cannonier and Strickland at UFC Vegas 66, the bout doesn’t feel likely to go to the bell. Both fighters have premium knockout power, and the betting window recognizes that but still favors a decision. Strickland is a favorite to win after 25 minutes, drawing +180, and a Cannonier decision is the third-most likely ending at +300. Should the fight end by finish, however, “Tha Killa Gorilla” is a +300 favorite compared to his opponent at +300. Strickland has the edge for a submission, though those odds are a longer stretch.
UFC Vegas 66 Fight Card
- #3 Jared Cannonier (-105) vs #7 Sean Strickland (-115) – Middleweight
- #9 Arman Tsarukyan (-190) vs #12 Damir Ismagulov (+160) – Lightweight
- #8 Amir Albazi (–) vs Alessandro Costa (–) – Flyweight
- #15 Alex Caceres (+145) vs Julian Erosa (-170) – Featherweight
- Drew Dober (-150) vs Bobby Green (+130) – Lightweight
- Cody Brundage (+230) vs Michal Oleksiejczuk (-275) – Middleweight
- Cheyanne Vlismas (–) vs Cory McKenna (–) – Women’s Strawweight
- Jake Matthews (-255) vs Matthew Semelsberger (+215) – Welterweight
- Julian Marquez (-170) vs Deron Winn (+145) – Middleweight
- #15 Said Nurmagomedov (-110) vs Saidyokub Kakhramonov (-110) – Bantamweight
- Rafa Garcia (-130) vs Maheshate (+110) – Lightweight
- Bryan Battle (+125) vs Rinat Fakhretdinov (-145) – Welterweight
- #9 David Dvorak (+200) vs #12 Manel Kape (-240) – Flyweight
- Sergey Morozov (-280) vs Journey Newson (+235) – Bantamweight