UFC Vegas 85: Nassourdine Imavov Wins Decision in Messy Fight With Roman Dolidze

Roman Dolidze and Nassourdine Imavov, UFC Vegas 85
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - FEBRUARY 03: (L-R) Nassourdine Imavov of Russia punches Roman Dolidze of Georgia in a middleweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on February 03, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

In UFC Vegas 85’s all-European main event, eleventh-ranked middleweight Nassourdine Imavov beat eighth-ranked Roman Dolidze by majority decision.

After an unlucky clash of heads derailed the French-Dagestani Nassourdine Imavov’s stellar performance against Chris Curtis, causing a no-contest, he looked to rebound with his second UFC main event. Georgia’s Dolidze faced the challenge of his first UFC main event coming directly off a close loss to top contender Marvin Vettori.

The fighters traded kicks to start the bout as they felt each other out. Imavov pressed Dolidze back with his superior jab and so Roman clinched up. Nassourdine tried to turn and back out but Dolidze held onto him for over a minute, but was unable to do damage. The striking was in favor of Imavov mostly; Dolidze’s awkward lunges, head bobs, and overhands sometimes found success but never clean or damaging. With one minute left Imavov landed a right hand that send Roman falling backwards towards the fence, and then to his back on the mat.

Imavov landed a lot of unanswered shots but Herb Dean never seemed interested in stopping the fight, bizarrely. Dolidze eventually found enough consciousness to go for a leg lock, but he got his back taken and ate many more punches before the bell saved him.

Roman Dolidze’s faced looked battered to start the second round but he was still focused and fighting hard. Imavov hit him a few times before the Georgian clinched him and held him against the fence. Nassourdine could not get free for a long time, but neither could Roman get the takedown or do any more damage than foot stomps. Nevertheless, he held Imavov in the clinch for the vast majority of the round, though Nassourdine got free a few times.

The third round started slowly but Imavov regained the advantage. He landed one good right hand two minutes into the round, prompting Roman to grab him yet again as he began to seem like he was fading. Hanging onto Imavov helped him survive another scare when he ate a knee and a right hand later in the round. Herb Dean separated that clinch for inactivity right before the round ended.

The fourth round brought drama as Nassourdine Imavov kicked Roman Dolidze in the head when he was down. Imavov then began to scream at his past opponent Chris Curtis, a member of Dolidze’s corner, prompting Herb Dean to threaten to disqualify him. Dolidze’s face looked horribly swollen and Herb took a point from Imavov, but the fight continued after two minutes on pause. Roman swung wildly in anger when the fight resumed and actually stung Imavov.

Imavov was the one to clinch up and Dolidze used that to get the fight into his realm for the first time, using a leg entanglement to drag him to the mat, then sweep and get on top of Imavov. Nassourdine butt-scooted so he could wall-walk up, right back into the clinch. Dolidze swung wildly again when they separated, but the sharper, straigher shots of Imavov were all that really landed before the round ended.

Dolidze was desperate to grapple in the final round, finally just dropping to his back to grab an arm and a knee on two occassions. Imavov defended it and slammed Roman with an elbow. Dolidze may have been almost out, but Imavov just clinched up and essentially allowed himself to be reversed and controlled. When Herb Dean separated them for inactivity, the fatigue was more evident than ever. Both men were not completely out of gas, but were far sloppier than they were in the first round, especially Imavov since Roman was a sloppy striker the entire time.

In the last minute Dolidze shot for several telegraphed takedowns, the last of which got him hit hard in the head a few times as he tried to stand up from being put in a front headlock.

The decision seemed relatively clear. Imavov seemingly had banked a 10-8 round in the first to make up for losing the fourth 10-8 after the point deduction, and he won at least two more rounds, if not all three others. When Bruce Buffer read out the scorecards there was one surprise: that one judge scored it a draw.

Imavov explained the Chris Curtis incident which almost got him disqualified by saying that Curtis talks too much and that Chris ran from their fight, continuing the bad blood between them since their fight. However Imavov gave props to Dolidze for continuing after being hurt by a foul in this fight.

Official Result: Nassourdine Imavov def. Roman Dolidze by Unanimous Decision (49-44, 47-47, 48-46)