Movsar Evloev was the man stepping up on short notice against Nik Lentz at UFC 257 on Saturday. The card, topped by the promotion’s biggest star in Conor McGregor, was the final of three events in January to be held on “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi, this time at the newly constructed Etihad Arena.
Evloev, a former M-1 bantamweight champ, moved back to featherweight upon joining the UFC, and had won three straight in the promotion, while posting a record of 13-0 overall as a pro. Initially, Lentz had been paired up with Mike Grundy at UFC 257, but fate (and a positive COVID-19 test from one of Grundy’s teammates) had other plans. Lentz, with over a decade of octagon experience, was looking to snap a two-fight skid.
Both men were exchanging to kick off the bout, before Lentz clinched Evloev against the fence looking to take him down. Lentz did get the trip but Evloev landed in top position. Lentz managed to lock in a Guillotine choke which caused Evolev to give up position, only to eventually escape and scramble to top position once again. What a finish that would have been. Evloev was looking to pass whilst Lentz hunted for the Guillotine again; this time he managed to escape whilst keeping top position and passed to half guard. Evloev ended the first round looking for ground and pound. Lentz’s face after the first round was swelled up after some of the short shots he received at the end of the round.
HOW DID EVLOEV ESCAPE? 😳
— UFC (@ufc) January 24, 2021
Lentz was looking for some counters to Evloev’s pressure early in the second, with both men content to exchange hands. Evloev managed to land an uppercut. Lentz searched for a takedown and jumped on the Guillotine, but Evloev escaped and managed to get into the clinch before they disengaged. Evloev started to land at a higher rate as the second went on, while Lentz was searching once again for the Guillotine but Evloev managed to escape again. Lentz was looking to grapple more and more as the round went on, going for another takedown as the round ended.
Lentz seemed to be slowing towards the end of the second and Evloev went to work with his hands, especially with his jab early in the third. Lentz was looking to close the distance whilst Evloev was content to exchange hands at close range. Lentz was a step behind throughout the third, with Evolev seemingly getting ahead on volume before Lentz went after a takedown. But Evolev defended well and went back to work and landed a nice right hand counter off a Lentz kick. Evolev was looking for the high kick but a couple of attempts were partially blocked by Lentz. Evolev was able to fight at a frantic pace throughout the bout and that was what helped him secure the fight down the stretch.
More than a prospect 🇷🇺 @MovsarUFC gets the nod on two scorecards for the SD.
— UFC (@ufc) January 24, 2021
After the contest, Evloev asked UFC president Dana White for a top 15 opponent in his next outing. Improving to 14-0, with four straight wins in the UFC, he may get just that.
Official Result: Movsar Evloev def. Nik Lentz via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)