Last night (Sat., Feb. 3, 2024), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returned home to UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada for UFC Vegas 85. The first of an 11-week run of continuous UFC events didn’t exactly set the bar high, but at this point, fans should know what to expect of “Fight Night” events in the Apex. Ranked Middleweights in the main event held at least a bit of intrigue given the wide open nature of the division, and there were a couple under-the-radar scraps on the card as well.
The lineup was never going to blow anyone’s mind, but all the same, let’s take a look at UFC Vegas 85’s best performances and techniques:
A Very Middleweight Main Event
If someone has a lot of spare time on their hands, go through Imavov vs. Dolidze and edit out all the clinch stalling along the fence. If you exclude those minutes, the fight was actually quite fun!
Unfortunately, there was so. much. clinching. I don’t blame Dolidze, who was getting lit up on the feet in almost every exchange. He took a ridiculous amount of hard shots and never stopped trying to win — the man is seriously tough. Clinching was his only hope in the face of nasty right hands, so that makes sense.
Imavov though? He clinched himself to a decision win that definitely could’ve been a stoppage, regardless of his opponent’s toughness. He was outclassing Dolidze on the feet, but fear of fatigue, actual fatigue, or some saw him repeatedly allow the action to stall in close quarters.
Imavov is obviously a fighter of serious talent, but it feels like activity and cardio remain an issue. Until that issue is figured out, Imavov isn’t going to break into the elite ranks.
Moicano Gets The Job Done
I won’t pretend Renato Moicano vs. Drew Dober was an amazing fight, but nor was it a terrible one. There were some quality moments of trading, as well as a nice reversal of momentum and lateral drop courtesy of Dober late in the second round that left Moicano leaking all over the place.
Large portions of the fight, however, took place with Moicano controlling position in half guard. Not exactly highlight reel stuff, but I do feel obliged to point out that Moicano’s technical positioning was excellent. He was smashing Dober’s face into the floor with heavy shoulder pressure, a strategy that both pinned Dober to the canvas and sapped at his gas tank.
Moicano was always working to advance into mount, but Dober did well to recover guard just as he nearly slipped free. Both guys wanted the finish and canceled the other out to an extent — it happens!
They’re still, on the whole, very exciting veterans of this game. An okay fight can be excused.
Rude Boy Gets Vicious
For a couple minutes, I was a little worried for Randy Brown. Muslim Salikhov is obviously an excellent striker, and the Russian veteran was controlling the early exchanges. Notably, he was kicking the lead leg with a worrying consistency, and it’s always a problem when the taller, longer man is getting out-kicked.
Then, a piston of a 1-2 ended the fight in an instant.
We saw a bad example of “tall man defense” earlier in the evening with Gilbert Urbina vs. Charles Radtke (more on that below), but “Rude Boy” doesn’t fall into that category. He’s not a perfect fighter, but Brown has always been able to work off the jab and slip his head far better than the average lanky MMA fighter. This time, he let his right hand follow the jab, and the result was a perfect knockdown that really came out of nowhere.
The Jamaican-American talent has now won six of his last seven, only coming up short opposite fast-rising prospect Jack Della Maddalena. Perhaps its time for a number next to his name?
I cannot say I saw that one coming.
Despite being billed as the wrestler against the striker, Radtke picked apart Urbina and stopped him with a pair of nasty left hook knockdowns. Aside from the finish itself, the most notable part of the fight was how badly Radtke jabbed up his opponent despite a severe height and reach disadvantage. Urbina couldn’t get much going with his lead hand, relying more on snappy kicks that didn’t deter Radtke in the least.
Radtke, to his credit, pressured well, pumped his lead shoulder actively, and then actually started snapping Urbina’s head back. That’s a real bad sign for the taller striker, and sure enough, Radtke wasted little time to begin building combinations and unloading power all over his opponent’s grill for his second UFC victory.
A Strawweight Meatball
Molly McCann made good on her 115-pound debut, picking up an early submission win over Diana Belbita, who she beat by decision back in 2019. The division suits her. “Meatball” is a great nickname, but a slightly leaner physique means that McCann doesn’t have to face such a significant height and reach disadvantage in all her fights.
In this bout, McCann put on a really well-rounded performance. She found her way to the inside well, landing elbows and attacking in combination. When the two clinched up, McCann’s strength advantage was clear, as she was twice able to force her foe to the floor from the clinch. The ladder takedown landed her directly into mount, and McCann got violent.
An immediate flurry of elbows opened up a high mount, allowing McCann to line up an armbar submission before she even sat back. She cranked hard, leaving Belbita screaming in pain as she hurriedly tapped.
Quite a Flyweight showcase!
- Themba Gorimbo defeats Pete Rodriguez via first-round knockout (HIGHLIGHTS): The overhand right and takedown are a pairing like peanut butter and chocolate. Gorimbo showed the takedown right away, looked low, then crashed forward with an overhand that was intended to set up a double leg. Instead, it briefly knocked out Rodriguez, and an immediate swarm of follow up shots prevented him from waking up in time to defends.
- Luana Carolina defeats Julija Stoliarenko via third-round knockout: This one has a considerable asterisk next to it given Carolina’s weight miss. She certainly looked like the stronger woman, edging the first two rounds and holding an edge in stamina in the third. Stoliarenko had a solid triangle choke setup in the third, but the attempt left her even more winded and possibly hurt her ankle as well. Carolina poured it on, and the ref intervened just before the final bell.
For complete UFC Vegas 85: “Dolidze vs. Imavov” results and play-by-play, click HERE!