Nassourdine Imavov secured his first win in a UFC main event on Saturday, but given his war of words with Chris Curtis during and after the fight, you could forget he actually beat Roman Dolidze at UFC Vegas 85.
It was a largely dominant showing for Imavov over five rounds, but he still got caught in an ugly moment after he delivered a vicious head kick that blasted Dolidze and sent him down to the canvas.
Unfortunately, Dolidze had a hand on the mat, which made the kick illegal, and it ultimately cost Imavov a point deduction from referee Herb Dean.
It could have cost a lot more after Dean warned Imavov to stay in a neutral corner or risk disqualification after a nasty exchange with Curtis, who served as one of Dolidze’s coaches. Of course, Imavov has a no-contest on his record after an accidental clash of heads ended his 2023 fight with Curtis early.
“First of all, I’m not very happy with [this fight],” Imavov said at the UFC Vegas 85 post-fight press conference. “I try to be as focused as I can. I try to stay focused on the cage to stay calm but sometimes my wild side can come out a little bit. I tried to stay as focused as I could be focused and I think it’s a lot because of the experience I’ve got in the cage with the years.
“I liked the performance. I just didn’t like that I got a little bit angry at one point during the fight.”
Imavov explained that Curtis chirping at him from the corner is what bothered him. That eventually led to a yelling match between the former opponents – and obscene gestures with a pair of middle fingers thrown in the air.
“I was upset because the guy Chris Curtis keeps talking in every fight he’s cornering,” Imavov said. “He keeps talking to me. This is not his job as a cornerman to talk to the fighter. When I went to the cage against him, he was very silent. He got dominated, and he even quit the fight because of the headbutt. I just wanted him to stop talking and let me fight.”
Despite his disdain for Curtis, Imavov paid homage to Dolidze for not taking the easy way out after getting caught with the illegal kick.
“Roman is real warrior,” Imavov said. “He kept fighting even though he could have stopped fighting. A lot of respect, thank you so much Roman for that. As opposed to his cornerman, he’s not a quitter like Chris Curtis.”
Following his win, Imavov called for a rematch against Sean Strickland after he lost a five-round decision to the ex-UFC middleweight champion in early 2023. As much as he might want that fight, he already heard calls for a different rematch, especially considering the bad blood he obviously shares with Curtis.
Sadly, it doesn’t appear to interest Imavov, who claimed Curtis previously turned down a rematch against him and is now returning the favor.
“Before Roman Dolidze, we proposed [Chris Curtis] a rematch in UFC Paris. He declined. Refused,” Imavov said. “I’m not at all interested by Chris Curtis. First of all, he’s so low in the rankings. Second of all, I did a masterclass against him. I just dominated him. He couldn’t do anything in the cage.
“But you know, if he really wants to keep talking, I can go to his gym and we can do a real tough sparring session and I’m going to destroy him as I did in the cage.”
Putting that rivalry aside, Imavov seems ready to move forward with his career, and he wants to stay busy for the rest of 2024. He loves the idea of appearing on a future UFC card in Paris, which has become an annual stop for the promotion over the past two years.
Imavov isn’t even worried about taking the main event slot there so long as he gets to compete close to home in France.
“I want to fight as much as possible,” Imavov said. “I want to stay very active in the division. It’s very possible [headlining UFC Paris] is something that could happen.
“Right now there is a lot of French [fighters] going up the ranks, and I’m very happy for that. There’s no competition between us French, we just want to go to the top so I could be main event in Paris, I could be co-main event. Whatever happens. I’m going to be very happy fighting in Paris.”