Imavov outstruck Dolidze on the feet for the majority of the bout, but he was consistently slowed down by desperate clinching from the Georgian. The French middleweight was also hurt by a point deduction due to an illegal kick in the fourth round, which led to the final scorecards being closer than expected.
Imavov subsequently thanked his team and called for a rematch against r Strickland, who handed him his last loss in January 2023.
“The fight camp was absolutely good, I want to thank all my coaches, first of all Nicholas Ott, second Ilian [Bouafia] one of my training partners, Issa Samake, the boxing coach and of course my brother [Daguir Imavov], I talked about him the first time I came to the UFC. He’s a phenomenal fighter, his record is 15-3 and I can’t wait for him to fight in the UFC,” Imavov said. “But regarding my performance and my next fight, I wanna fight against Sean Strickland.”
Imavov faced Strickland on short notice as a replacement for Kelvin Gastelum at UFC Fight Night 217. Strickland went on to earn a decision victory in the makeshift light heavyweight bout, and he would become middleweight champion two fights later when he upset Israel Adesanya at UFC 293. Strickland’s title reign was short lived, as he lost his strap to Dricus Du Plessis in a closely-contested split decision at UFC 297 last month.
Imavov’s illegal strike to the head of Dolidze incited a reaction from teammate Chris Curtis, who was in Dolidze’s corner and has bad blood with the Frenchman stemming from their June 2023 meeting. A worked-up Imavov was seen heading towards Dolidze’s corner during a pause in the action before referee Herb Dean warned him about potential disqualification.
Imavov faced Curtis at UFC 289 and appeared to be winning for a round and a half before an accidental clash of heads rendered “Action-Man” unable to continue, leading to an anti-climactic no contest. Speaking about his exchange with Curtis, Imavov noted that the Xtreme Couture product wasn’t running his mouth when they met inside the Octagon.
“I was upset because the guy Chris Curtis keeps talking in every fight he’s cornering,” Imavov said at the UFC Fight Night 235 post-fight press conference. “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 so you know, I just want him to stop talking and let me fight.”