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Roman Dolidze criticizes fellow UFC contenders for ‘acting like kids,’ saying anything ‘just for attention’

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Roman Dolidze is noticing a trend among his fellow UFC contenders.

“All of these guys, or most of them — I don’t want to be disrespectful, but I will say in general — [are] acting like kids, talking like kids,” Dolidze said at UFC Vegas 85 media day. “Talking a lot. And where I’m from, where I’m raised, we think twice before we say something, because your words need to have something [behind them].

“If you just say so many words, nobody will [put] worth [on] your words. That’s why, for me, I’m just looking at them like they’re kids. Not everybody, but most of them.”

Dolidze’s remarks come on the heels of back-to-back months marred by ugly exchanges around UFC pay-per-views, first between Colby Covington and UFC welterweight champion Leon Edwards at UFC 296, and then again ahead of Sean Strickland’s middleweight title defense against now-champion Dricus du Plessis at UFC 297. Both situations heaped fuel onto the fire of an already growing level of toxicity within the MMA community, both among fighters and their fan bases, the latter of which was pointed out by UFC play-by-play man Jon Anik before the veteran broadcaster issued an apology for his statements.

Dolidze, 35, returns this Saturday against Nassourdine Imavov in the main event of UFC Vegas 85, and the native Georgian can’t relate to where some of his peers are coming from.

“If you look how they’re talking with each other, I’m very respectful [with] what I’m talking [about] and how I’m saying this,” Dolidze said.

“But these guys are ready to say anything just for attention. And sometimes when I see them and if I didn’t like something they said before, then I’m saying, ‘Listen, now you see me. I’m in front of your face. Why you were talking like that? What’s wrong? On Twitter or somewhere else.’ Some of them don’t even remember that they said or commented anything, or [they reply] something, ‘Oh, this is just [promotion].’ I understand that their word doesn’t have worth, and I can’t ask from them [what] I ask myself.”

A winner of four of his past five bouts, Dolidze has been sidelined since his hot streak ended at the hands of Marvin Vettori this past March. The UFC’s middleweight division has changed dramatically since that loss, with the belt changing hands three different times between Israel Adesanya, Strickland, and now du Plessis. Multiple bouts of Dolidze’s own have fallen apart over that stretch, whether due to injury or bad luck, however he remains within striking distance of the title conversation. A win over Imavov could propel him back into that mix, but Dolidze would rather let his performance do his talking for him.

“What do you want me to say? Big words and to say, ‘Yes, it’s No. 1 contender fight?’ No, I’m not that guy,” Dolidze said. “I’m sure there will be somebody who will start talking like that, but it’s a good, interesting fight. And I think after this fight we can get a top-five opponent. Definitely, we deserve [that]. And [then] let’s see what will happen. No one knows.”

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