Roman Dolidze was not winning against Jack Hermansson last night (Sat., Dec. 3, 2022) at UFC Orlando inside Amway Center.
The Swedish veteran was doing a lot of damage to both of Dolidze’s legs, landing the cleaner counter punches, and was the only man to score any takedowns. Their fight lasted nine minutes, and Hermansson won almost all of them. Really, he won every exchange in the entire fight that didn’t take place with Dolidze in bottom position on the floor.
Yup, Dolidze won this fight almost entirely from “bad” positions (watch highlights).
In the first frame, Dolidze threatened an armbar and landed a slick pendulum sweep, a technique we rarely see in mixed martial arts (MMA). His movements were fluid, and it was clearly a well-rehearsed chain for the former ADCC competitor. When Hermansson went back to the takedown in the second, Dolidze entered into the same sequence but showed off future transitions in the series. He attempted the initial armbar, the pendulum sweep, and then he transitioned to attacking the reverse triangle of all things. As Hermansson pulled away, Dolidze switched to a leg entanglement.
Hermansson tried to limp leg out, and it nearly worked. As he clear the knee line, however, Dolidze won the underhook battle. As a result, he maintained control of Hermansson’s torso and was able to pull him into a calf slicer. Hermansson was immediately in danger and tried to give up bottom position, but Dolidze followed him up and ultimately pinned him on his belly with the calf slicer.
Hermansson had nowhere to go, leaving him helpless. The surging Georgian talent pounded away with punches until it was clear to the referee that Hermansson was fully stuck and unable to defend himself.
This is actually the second Dolidze win in a row that stems from his bottom game, from this exact sequence specifically. Against Phil Hawes, Dolidze attempted the same armbar, and when Hawes pulled away, he transitioned directly into a leg entanglement. After crippling Hawes with a heel hook, he knocked him out shortly afterward.
We’re currently in the era of Dagestani wrestlers and elite kickboxers. Seemingly, those are the primary paths to victory at the highest level: elite top control or elite distance management. I’m not claiming Dolidze is the first or only exception — shoutout Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira and his ultra violent title reign — but there just are not many people making complex jiu-jitsu bottom games happen in MMA.
The great thing about Dolidze is that he’s no one-trick pony. He does know how to wrestle, and he can knock people out. He doesn’t rely solely on the leg lock, like Claudio Puelles did so woefully against Dan Hooker a few weeks ago. Instead, Dolidze can competently fight everywhere, and if his opponent happens to fall into his trap, the Georgian can spring into action with a deadly suddenness.
He’s an aberration from the current meta, and a fun one at that.
For complete UFC Orlando: “Thompson vs. Holland” results and play-by-play, click HERE.