Veteran welterweights Nicolas Dalby and Muslim Salikhov opened the UFC Vegas 75 main card on Saturday at the UFC Apex.
At thirty-eight and thirty-nine years old, respectively, the two athletes are nearing the tail end of their careers, but neither is taking losses like a fighter who is washed up. Dalby had won his last two fights while Salikhov had won six of his last seven. Both fighters have well-rounded skillsets and the fight was expected to be tightly contested.
Salikhov came out pressing forward behind his jab. Dalby looked to counter. The fight was cagey, both men feinted prolifically. Salikhov looked sharp despite his age. No big moments took place for most of the first, just consistently technical striking at a decent pace. Salikhov landed one solid right hand off of a caught kick and did spin a few times, but Dalby was never badly hurt. With a few seconds left in round one Dalby snuck a head kick past Salikhov’s guard and hurt him. Salikhov was able to duck in on a takedown attempt and force Dalby into the clinch so he could ride out the round.
The second round started with Dalby rushing forward and trying for a takedown but Salikhov defended it easily. They got back to a similar striking dynamic to that of round one until Dalby shot for another takedown, which Salikhov was able to stuff with an underhook. Dalby went for a knee from the clinch and Muslim caught it and dumped him to the mat with a slick move. However, Dalby was able to get back to his feet and get a takedown of his own, landing on top in full mount. Muslim got to half guard but then gave up his back in trying to get up. Dalby got one hook in and then appeared to be setting up a twister, though Salikhov defended it and got back to half guard, then to his feet. Salikhov was still stuck in the clinch though until the final seconds of the round when Dalby let go and opened up with elbows off the break, damaging Muslim in the final seconds.
The first round was close but round two was all Nicolas Dalby, and Salikhov appeared to be fading somewhat. They stayed standing for half a minute but then Dalby clinched up again to wear on Salikhov. He was able to control Muslim with a strong body lock. Salikhov worked to pummel and escape but Dalby just stayed insistent on controlling the position and made it hard for his foe. Just past three minutes left in the fight Salikhov was able to get off the fence but he was put on the retreat immediately by the pressuring Nicolas Dalby. Dalby clinched up again after doing well in the striking. He broke, did damage, and clinched again, putting Salikhov in a spin cycle where he was unable to establish any offense. Dalby landed big elbows on Salikhov in the final minute, who fired back, to his credit. Dalby was able to get a takedown with fifteen seconds left and land in full mount where he dropped strikes until the final bell.
When Joe Martinez read the final scorecards there was no real doubt as to the winner. Nicolas Dalby clearly won the second and third rounds; only the opening round was in doubt. Two judges gave Dalby all three rounds while one gave him two of them.
Official Result: Nicolas Dalby def. Muslim Salikhov by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)