Loik Radzhabov Wins Thriller Against Esteban Ribovics in UFC 285 Opener

Esteban Ribovics and Loik Radzhabov, UFC 285
Esteban Ribovics and Loik Radzhabov, UFC 285 ceremonial weigh-in Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

A pair of promotional newcomers kicked off the massive UFC 285 card at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday.

Esteban Ribovics had won his way into the UFC on Dana White’s Contender Series last year, while PFL veteran Loik Radzhabov, who had been briefly linked to The Ultimate Fighter 31, was instead signed directly to the big show.

The lightweight pairing turned out to be a great way to kick off UFC 285, with both fighters putting on strong performances.

Starting off, Radzhabov landed a big right hand that shook Ribovics. The blow came just seconds into the round, and got the crowd instantly into the fight. He landed another right hand and then got the fight to the ground. Ribovics used a kimura lock to get back to his feet however.

It wasn’t long before Radzhabov got the fight right back down again. Radzhabov threatened to take the back, making Ribovics go to his back. Ribovics got back to his feet, then back down but then right back up. The rounds ended with them on their feet. The takeaway: Radzhabov’s right hand was money.

Ribovics started round two and landed a left hand that landed clean. Radzhabov responded with another takedown. Radzhabov was getting the fight down, but not keeping Ribovics planted. Radzhabov just crashed the pocket with punches getting in on the legs getting another takedown. Like always Ribovics got back to his feet and went back to work on the feet. Ribovics just could not defend the takedown however, getting taken down for an eighth time inside of two rounds. He got back up and was getting more confident with his hands. Ribovics hurt Radzhabov bad with a body strike then went up top dropping Radzhabov. Desperate, Radzhabov dove in on the legs to survive. Radzhabov started the round well but Ribovics likely stole the round with that sequence at the end.

In the final round, Radzhabov stunned Ribovics with a clubbing right hand. A big knee came later. He had his opponent in danger slightly but Ribovics recovered quickly. It wasn’t long into the round until Radzhabov got another takedown. Ribovics used a beautiful kimura lock to sweep Radzhabov. He even mounted Radzhabov but Radzhabov exploded back up and got another takedown. With a minute left, Ribovics got back to his feet and he hurt Radzhabov with a right hand. Radzhabov kept shooting desperately for the takedowns but this time didn’t get them right at the bell.

In the end, the judges scored it for Radzhabov, awarding him the fight two rounds to one on all three scorecards. On any of the recent Apex cards, this would have been a strong candidate for Fight of the Night.

Official Result: Loik Radzhabov def. Esteban Ribovics by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)