The Frenchman made his pitch as a Top 10 contender in the Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight division, as he outstruck and outlasted Romand Dolidze to a majority decision in the UFC Fight Night 235 headliner on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Judges Derek Cleary and Sal D’Amato saw it 49-44 and 48-46 for Imavov, while Ron McCarthy scored it a 47-47 draw.
Imavov (13-4, 5-2 UFC) was docked a point for an illegal head kick in the fourth round but otherwise controlled the majority of the match with sharp striking. He wobbled Dolidze with a right hand inside the first five minutes, forced him to the canvas with a series of follow-up shots, including a brutal knee strike to the body, and nearly authored a quick finish with ground-and-pound. Perhaps undercut by fatigue, Imavov was hesitant from that point forward yet still managed to extend his lead against a woefully inactive opponent. Dolidze (12-3, 6-3 UFC) resorted to a series of clinches along the fence but offered little in terms of meaningful offense, resulting in several referee restarts. The Georgian threatened with a kneebar in the fourth round and a toe hold in the fifth, though neither of the attempts had Imavov in any real danger.
Meanwhile, American Top Team’s Renato Carneiro rode takedowns, asphyxiating top control and steady ground-and-pound to a unanimous decision over Drew Dober in the three-round lightweight co-main event. All three members of the cageside judiciary scored it 29-28 for Carneiro (18-5-1, 10-5 UFC).
Dober (27-13, 13-9 UFC) buckled “Moicano” more than once in their standup exchanges and executed an exquisite lateral drop in the second round that resulted in a gnarly cut near the Brazilian’s right eye. With the outcome still in doubt, Carneiro made his move in the third. He countered another lateral drop from Dober, powered into top position 3:22 left on the clock and never again allowed the Elevation Fight Team rep regain his footing. With blood spurting from his face, Carneiro applied his ground-and-pound, stayed busy enough to keep referee Mark Smith at bay and eventually climbed to full mount to salt away the victory.
Carneiro, 34, has won four of his past five bouts, a March 2022 decision defeat to Rafael dos Anjos the only hiccup.
Elsewhere, ex-Ring of Combat champion Randy Brown felled Muslim Salikhov with punches in the first round of their welterweight showcase. Brown (18-5, 12-5 UFC) slammed the door on the “King of Kung Fu” 3:17 into Round 1, winning for the sixth time in seven appearances.
Salikov (19-5, 6-4 UFC) closed the distance with crushing leg kicks but could not give them enough time to marinate. Brown doubled up with jabs and then followed them with a brutal right cross. Salikhov absorbed the concussive impact, hit the deck, turtled in a defensive shell and ate a standing-to-ground right hand before referee Kerry Hatley arrived on the scene.
The knockout was Brown’s first since he stopped Bryan Barberena with punches at UFC Fight Night 154 on June 22, 2019.
Further down the card, budding Team Borracha star Natalia Silva called upon a clever, taekwondo-based kicking game, bulletproof takedown defense, power punching bursts and relentless lateral movement in a unanimous decision over onetime Pancrase champion Viviane Araujo in a three-round women’s flyweight feature. All three cageside judges struck 29-28 scorecards for Silva (17-5-1, 5-0 UFC), an emerging threat at 125 pounds.
Araujo (12-6, 6-5 UFC) tried and ultimately failed to bottle up the former Jungle Fight titleholder in the clinch. Silva bided her time, broke free when the opportunity presented itself and launched quick-twitch offensive attacks for which there was no retort. She sat down Araujo with a sweeping left hook in the second round, then proceeded to pile up points with creative kicks to the body, head and legs.
The 27-year-old Silva has rattled off 11 consecutive victories.
Finally, former Cage Fury Fighting Championships titleholder Charlie Radtke melted “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 29 finalist Gilbert Urbina with punches in the first round of their welterweight appetizer. Radtke (9-3, 2-0 UFC) drew the curtain 4:47 into Round 1, as he nailed down his sixth straight win in spectacular fashion.
Urbina (7-3, 1-2 UFC) never established a foothold in the match. Radtke forced him onto his back foot with a thrusting jab and well-timed leg kicks, then decked him with a clean left hook. Urbina managed to get back to a standing position, only to find himself pinned to the fence. Another powerful left hook from Radtke folded him where he stood and left him defenseless to the follow-up punches that came next.
It was the fourth first-round finish of Radtke’s brief but eventful career.
In other action, a hotly anticipated middleweight showdown between Aliaskhab Khizriev (12-0, 1-0 UFC) and Makhmud Muradov (26-8, 4-2 UFC) ended in a no contest due to in accidental eye poke 11 seconds into Round 1. The cageside physician, referee Herb Dean and Muradov—his left eye already swollen shut—all agreed he was in no condition to continue.
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