UFC Vegas 85 Main Event: Dolidze vs. Imavov
UFC VEGAS 85 MAIN EVENT: DOLIDZE VS. IMAVOV – After an off week, the UFC returns this weekend to kick off an 11-event run over the next two-and-a-half months, ending with the big UFC 300 card in mid-April. Middleweights square off in the main event to determine who gets to break into the top-five and position themselves into title contention.
Roman Dolidze looks to rebound after a March loss to former title challenger, Marvin Vettori.
On the flip side, Nassourdine Imavov intends on putting 2023 behind him after a loss and no contest, which snapped his three-fight winning streak from his ’21-’22 campaign.
Will the aggressive, berserker style of Dolidze prevail? Or will Imavov snipe his way to another clean victory? Read on to see how these two different styles match up and how to put some change in your pocket from it.
Originally expected to be a flop in the UFC, Dolidze has put together a solid record since joining the promotion in 2020. He started his career 6-0 on the regional scene and was finishing all his opponents, but some of them looked ill-fit for the matchup at hand. However, Dolidze has scraped together a 6-2 run through his UFC career thus far.
A minor slip up to Trevin Giles in 2021 was followed up with a four-fight winning streak, including a win over former top contender, Jack Hermansson. He was defeated by Marvin Vettori in March, and has taken a lot of time off as he is now a new father.
Dolidze has an aggressive style no matter where the fight takes him. Whether it’s in the striking realm where he likes to walk down his opponents and try to knock them out. If he is on his back, he throws up submissions or creates scrambling opportunities for himself to get back to the standing realm where he loves to dictate the pace.
Another fighter that many people believe was not ready for UFC-level competition after a poor performance against fringe-UFC fighter, Jordan Williams, Imavov has made a decent name for himself as he looks to headline his second UFC card this weekend. Imavov defeated Williams in his UFC debut, then fell short to Phil Hawes in a fight where he was unable to get his defensive grappling up to snuff.
He then went on a three-fight winning streak, demolishing the competition that was put in front of him. That was until he ran into eventual champion, Sean Strickland, who defeated him over five rounds. Last time out he competed against Chris Curtis and was looking good for eight minutes before an accidental headbutt caused the fight to be ruled a no-contest.
Imavov now has his eyes set on getting back on track and marching towards title contention, something he could have achieved if he defeated Sean Strickland this time last year. Aptly nicknamed “Russian Sniper”, Imavov uses a lot of long-range weapons to touch up his opponents. When in close, he uses nasty elbows and slick knees up the middle to hurt his opponents badly.
Although he does not often look to grapple, he has a nasty front-choke game that he can implement if opponents are looking for desperation takedowns against him. He is very dangerous no matter where a fight takes him, I just have suspicions about his cardio over five rounds.
It’s tough to be overly confident on Imavov here given the five-round nature of this fight. If it was three rounds, I’d happily pull the trigger at the -160 number he finds himself at. However, I am unsure of how long he can sustain maintaining his distance before the pressure of Dolidze catches up to him.
Imavov has been known to shoot desperation takedowns of his own when he gets tired, which is probably a huge no-no against someone as aggressive as Dolidze, who will pounce on him. The spot I see myself leaning to most in this fight is the over 2.5. It’s roughly the same number as playing Imavov straight, but I expect Imavov to play the distance and movement game well for at least 12.5 minutes.
From there, things can go sour for either fighter. I’ll still pick Imavov to win this fight and hope he can continue maintaining his distance and keeping Dolidze at bay, but I’d rather take the over and leave my sweat behind after the 2.5 round mark.