Seasoned contender Marvin “The Italian Dream” Vettori is looking to find his way back into the middleweight win column this weekend against rising star Roman Dolidze at UFC 286.
This is Vettori’s first fight back after two losses to former champions in Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker. Meanwhile, Dolidze is riding off of a four-fight win streak, finishing his last three opponents in an exciting fashion.
Both are extremely well-rounded grapplers, albeit with polarizing styles, with very capable striking that’s shown to give many of their opponents problems. One thing is certain, and that’s the fact that this is likely the most pivotal fight in the middleweight division this month.
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Despite coming off of two UD losses, Vettori enters this fight as a moderate favorite.
The main commonality between both of these fighters is their more-than-adept ability on the ground. Marvin seems to be much more driven to score takedowns, however, opting to shoot relentlessly whenever matched up against a solid striker. He should be careful about this going into this bout with Dolidze, however, as he’s been shown to have extremely solid reversals and submission threats off his back.
The two fighters are also extremely capable within the clinch. Vettori opts to take a much more dirty-boxing approach, throwing hooks and uppercuts to the body in order to set up his double legs and body lock takedowns, while Dolidze is extremely proficient within the Thai clinch, throwing brutal knees and snapping down his opponents into sprawls. This clinch style is what scored him a knockout victory against the always-tough Kyle Daukaus as he pushed him toward the cage and landed a single brutal knee to end the fight.
While both of these fighters have extremely dangerous grappling their striking is equally, if not more threatening. Their striking style is actually very similar to their clinching style, with Vettori relying on sharp counter hooks and jabs while peppering in the occasional body kick to control the distance. Meanwhile, Dolidze continues to carry a Thai-esque style in his striking, throwing powerful crosses and mixing his kicks to the legs, body, and head.
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Overall, while Vettori is a very capable striker, having gone five rounds with household names like Paulo Costa and Israel Adesanya, I still believe Dolidze has the edge in this department. While Vettori has some sharp counters and solid clinch work, his entries are fairly rudimentary, with him often getting caught as he comes in. As well as this, while he has a rock-hard chin, he’s shown himself to waver for the rest of the fight after taking some heavy shots, as his movement slows down and his shots lose their accuracy.
One advantage is certain for Vettori, and that’s his cardio. This isn’t to say that Dolidze actually has weak conditioning, he’s actually gone three rounds relatively easily many times in his career. However, Vettori has gone five rounds against much more skilled opponents while looking moderately fresh toward the championship rounds. His conditioning and toughness are likely his two strongest attributes, carrying him through much of his early career in the UFC, which makes this a big test to see whether or not Dolidze could hang with the top names of the division for more than three rounds.
Prediction and Betting Guide
Although Vetorri is the much more seasoned fighter in this bout, having gone against more seasoned fighters than Dolidze in his rise through the UFC, I see an upset happening this weekend.
Now, I still see this being an extremely difficult fight for Dolidze, no opponent he’s faced yet has come close to the caliber of Vettori, however, I see more ways for him to win this fight. They’re relatively equal on the ground, however on the feet I see Dolidze having a bit of an edge. He’s a much more level-headed striker and has shown himself to face adversity more easily.
If Vettori wants a win in this bout, he’s going to need to sting Dolidze or grind him out on the ground early in the fight. I still don’t see Dolidze scoring a finish in this fight though, just because of how hard Vettori is to put away so, because of that, I’m going with Dolidze via decision.
Bet: Roman Dolidze by Decision (+900) or Roman Dolidze to Win (+225)