What’s Next: UFC Vegas 85 Losers

Roman Dolidze, UFC
Roman Dolidze, UFC 286 ceremonial weigh-in Credit: Jamie Theodosi/Cageside Press

UFC Vegas 85 was a bit of an afterthought, with promotion CEO Dana White allegedly taking in a boxing match instead of his own Fight Night event. Middleweights topped the card, with Nassourdine Imavov defeating Roman Dolidze in a fight that nearly turned ugly following an illegal kick. Still, Imavov won, Dolidze is left to lick his wounds, and we take a look at what might come next.

Roman Dolidze

Georgian-born Roman Dolidze disappointed in his first UFC main event. Most of his success at UFC Vegas 85 was found with damageless cage clinching, he almost got finished, and he gassed out quickly. Perhaps the close decision in the Marvin Vettori fight was a case of a favorable stylistic matchup and Dolidze does not really belong at this level right now. It is up to him to prove that he does. He will drop from number eight to at least number eleven in the rankings and should now be matched up against a rising, unranked prospect due to his two-fight losing streak.

Ikram Aliskerov is one of hottest unranked middleweights in the UFC at present, and certainly the best of the unbooked ones, since fighters like Roman Kopylov and Joe Pyfer are already booked against ranked fighters. Aliskerov presents the challenge of a strong Dagestani wrestling base as well as powerful and effective striking. Dolidze will be challenged and if he does not prove he belongs in the top-15 at middleweight with a win then he will fall from the rankings.

Dolidze’s Next Fight: Ikram Aliskerov

Drew Dober

Lightweight knockout record holder Drew Dober fell to 1-2 in his last three fights on Saturday when Renato Moicano was able to out-grapple him in a competitive but clear decision. As the fifteenth-ranked lightweight in the UFC, there is a good chance he will have fallen from the rankings entirely when they are updated on Tuesday morning. Either way, Dober will be fighting an unranked prospect in his next outing.

Options abound at lightweight, with several options available who are just outside of the top fifteen: Paddy Pimblett, Carlos Diego Ferreira, Mateusz Rebecki . There are even rematches which make sense: Nasrat Haqparast, Terrance McKinney, or even Matt Frevola even though they fought not long ago, because of the sheer violence factor. Fans know what they are after when they see a Drew Dober fight. Haqparast, McKinney, Frevola, Rebecki, and CDF are all options which can provide that violent, kill-or-be-killed style fight at times. So too could the winner of Ludovit Klein vs Joel Alvarez, or Joaquim Silva vs Drakkar Klose.

Lightweight is really just stacked, so good options are endless for a talented and exciting fighter like Drew Dober, but I think that Dober vs McKinney 2 would make for the best viewing. McKinney almost finished him in the first fight and has improved since then, while Dober was since KOed for the first time ever. The fight makes more sense now than it did the first time, arguably, and would make for an excellent opener to UFC 300 if the promotion wants to go that route and if Dober is ready.

Dober’s Next Fight: Terrance McKinney 2

Muslim Salikhov

Sanda kickboxing practitioner Muslim Salikhov put together a five-fight winning streak in the UFC from 2018 to 2021, but has since lost three of his last four and it appears that his age of thirty-nine is a significant factor. Salikhov must seriously consider retirement in the wake of UFC Vegas 85, especially since two of those losses were knockouts, but if we assume he is going to keep fighting then it is appropriate to match him up against an average UFC welterweight or a fellow aging veteran, no longer should he be fighting fringe-ranked contenders.

Alex Morono is a fighter who has always been more technician than athlete and who has long been a solid UFC welterweight. With a 12-6 record in the UFC, he is a similar caliber of veteran to Salikhov, though he has never been ranked. Alex is a striker with a penchant for decisions, so a fight against ‘The King of Kung Fu’ would be both well-matched stylistically, be of a level Salikhov can likely still compete at as proven by beating Andre Fialho, and be a chance for Salikhov’s chin to rest a bit after a brutal knockout loss.

Salikhov’s Next Fight: Alex Morono

Viviane Araujo

Although Natalia Sila is one of the hottest prospects in the sport and there is no shame in losing to her, Araujo is now 2-4 in her last six following UFC Vegas 85. She beat ranked contenders in her wins and did not get completely shut out of a fight until she fought Silva, but the number eight spot is too high for her, and she, too, will be lower upon release of the Tuesday rankings update.

Someone like that has to fight down, of course, and who better then to face than the newest member of the UFC women’s flyweight divisional rankings’ newest member, Jasmine Jasudavicius. Jasudavicius also once lost to Natalia Silva, but she is 4-2 in her six UFC fights and is ranked fifteenth after her recent win. She is certainly a less experienced and highly ranked opponent than Araujo’s last several, so this will both give Araujo an opportunity to prove she belongs in the rankings and give Jasudavicius an opportunity to solidify her spot as a contender.

Araujo’s Next Fight: Jasmine Jasudavicius

Gilbert Urbina

With a 1-2 record in the UFC after losing in the semifinals of his season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” Gilbert Urbina is one loss away from being sent back to the regional scene. At present he is the perfect sort of fighter to be someone’s welcoming party to the UFC. The last welterweight winner of the 2023 DWCS season, Mauricio Ruffy, can boost his career at the expense of Urbina if they fight, but it would give Urbina a chance to claw his way back to 2-2, a respectable record. As always being 1-2 in the UFC is the ultimate crossroads when nearing the end of a fighter’s first, and potentially last, contract with the promotion.

Urbina’s Next Fight: Mauricio Ruffy