What mattered most at UFC Fight Night 235 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas? Here are a few post-fight musings …
Can Themba Gorimbo make noise in welterweight division?
You have to credit the mix of humility and confidence beaming out of Themba Gorimbo, and it’s hard not to root for him to reach his goals in the UFC welterweight division.
If you’re not familiar with Gorimbo (12-4 MMA, 2-1 UFC) as a fighter and only know him from the viral story of The Rock purchasing him a home, he showed what his skills are all about. Gorimbo delivered on his promise for a first-round knockout when he flattened Pete Rodriguez in a mere 32 seconds, and now he has some momentum in his UFC career.
Gorimbo has made the bold claim that he’ll become UFC welterweight champion by the end of 2024. I don’t think a single person outside of himself thinks that possible just given the sheer gap between where he is now and a title shot. An unfathomable amount of good fortune would have to break his way – but it’s good to have dreams, I guess.
If title shots were based on the backstory of a fighter, then Gorimbo would be ready for one now. He appears to be an incredible and caring person, and is getting people invested in his story. However, he’s got a lot more delivering to do inside the octagon before his name is attached to title contention in any way, shape or form.
Molly McCann makes statement in strawweight debut
Look, I don’t know if the trajectory of Molly McCann’s career would’ve been vastly different if she started at strawweight. But to deny she was more physical imposing and tenacious in this division after seeing her crush Diana Belbita for a first-round submission, would be a lie.
McCann (14-6 MMA, 7-5 UFC) was locked in throughout fight week, look stellar on the scale at weigh-ins and followed it up with a pretty solid performance. It’s hard to gauge what it means against an opponent like Belbita, who McCann already beat before in a higher weight class, and openly admitted pre-fight that she was basically retired before being offered the rematch with McCann.
If McCann can do this same thing against someone who doesn’t have one foot out of the door in terms of active competition, then she might actually be in business at 115 pounds.
Randy Brown worthy of some respect
Randy Brown has been out here grinding in the UFC for the better part of a decade now, and is putting together what’s probably an overlooked career.
After a dazzling first-round knockout of Muslim Salikhov in their welterweight bout, Brown (18-5 MMA, 12-5 UFC) now has a dozen octagon victories to his credit. He’s 6-1 in his past seven fights dating back to March 2021, and his calls for a ranked opponent should be validated.
It, of course, can’t be ignored that when Brown has got that step up in competition before, he’s faltered. His two losses in the past five years came against Jack Della Maddalena and Vicente Luque, both of whom knocked him out.
Brown needs to deliver in this next opportunity against a top 10 or top 15 name, though, or he might be viewed as a gatekeeper moving forward.
Renato Moicano rollercoaster post-fight interview
Renato Moicano made everyone forget the fact Drew Dober served him up the unanimous decision win due to a third-round takedown blunder, because of what was another wild and memorable post-fight interview.
Moicano (18-5-1 MMA, 10-5 UFC) continues to make himself known as a fun character in the sport with his unpredictable nature when a microphone gets put in front of him. It’s mostly R-rated content from the Brazilian, but if you’re into that kind of thing, it’s certainly out of the norm.
His gimmick only works as a winner, however.
In order to get the interviews, Moicano needs to win. He’s done plenty of that lately, putting together a 5-1 record in his past six fights. He beat a respectable and proven opponent in Dober, and now he’ll get a chance to make his words heard to a bigger audience in the form of a higher ranked fight.
Make that money, Moicano.
Nassourdine Imavov puts turbulent year behind him
I’ll admit I was rather indifferent to this main event. Nassourdine Imavov and Roman Dolidze weren’t exactly moving the needle with any of their pre-fight discussion or performances coming into this fight, but I acknowledge it was a meaningful fight for the middleweight division, to some degree.
Of all the potential outcomes, Imavov (13-4 MMA, 5-2 UFC) winning this majority decision over Dolidze was probably the most ideal one for the UFC. The French fighter is still only 28 and has shown some flashes of brilliance throughout his career, but it’s been a slow burn.
2023 was a bad year for Imavov. He lost to Sean Strickland. He had a no contest with Chris Curtis due to a head clash. Then, on top of that, he changed managers and changed teams, which is never an easy or smooth process for a fighter to go through.
All of that could’ve taken its toll on Imavov, but he didn’t let it. He’s maintained his composure all throughout the process, and now he’s back on track. I don’t know what Imavov’s ceiling is or ability to make an impact on the upper tier at 185 pounds, but he’s a skilled and serviceable fighter who is better to have on the upswing than struggling.
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 235.