CB "Nick Diaz" Dollaway was in full effect against Francis Carmont Saturday at UFC Fight Night 41 in Berlin, Germany.
From the bout's onset, Dollaway played the part of entertainer, throwing his hands in the air and smiling at every kick landed by his foe. This aligns well with Dollaway's most recent outings; he's slowly come into his own inside the cage, and he's been supremely relaxed and confident, even boisterous, of late.
Undeterred, Carmont bought into Dollaway's bravado and looked to match him at his own game, throwing his arms up and mocking Dollaway's taunts throughout Round 1. The Frenchman even roared (literally, he yelled) during a failed takedown attempt, upping the ante for hilarious expressions of gamesmanship inside the cage.
In the end, these two middleweights were well-matched, and they did not shy away from each other at any point throughout the three-round co-main event.
It was the unranked Dollaway who got the better of the No. 9-ranked Carmont after 15 minutes of action, though, and the former The Ultimate Fighter contestant notched what is his biggest UFC win to date via unanimous decision.
What We'll Remember About This Fight
The taunting was fun, and it definitely injected the bout with a juicy shot of excitement early on, but Dollaway's all-around dominant performance left the most lasting impression.
Carmont is no joke—he was 6-1 in the UFC coming into this fight, and he had only lost to No. 4-ranked middleweight Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza during his stint with the promotion. Unfazed by this resume, Dollaway went to work and showed off his continually evolving game, besting the Canadian everywhere the fight went.
While Dollaway seemed to fall in love with kickboxing in his most recent bouts, it was his bread and butter—his wrestling—that won him this fight. After a close Round 1, he secured takedowns in both Round 2 and Round 3, and Carmont was unable to handle his smothering top game.
For his efforts, Dollaway takes a nice stride forward in the 185-pound division.
What We Learned About Dollaway
Dollaway is a gamer, and he's not going to shy away from a gunfight.
While Carmont was the longer, more technical striker, Dollaway stood in the pocket and traded blows, catching his opponent with a nice left hook in Round 1 and proceeding to control the action inside the cage from that point.
His wrestling is still overwhelming, and his gas tank held up, fueling him to a decision victory.
Dollaway is looking an awful lot like a top-10 middleweight these days, a testament to his hard work and improvements as a mixed martial artist.
What We Learned About Carmont
We now know Carmont's full potential.
After a dominant, albeit uninspiring, effort against Costas Philippou at UFC 165, Carmont dropped his first UFC fight to Souza at UFC Fight Night: Machida vs. Mousasi. Souza is an incredible talent, though, and fans wondered how much weight to put on that loss.
Against Dollaway, Carmont proved that his defeat to Souza was no fluke; he really just doesn't have elite, game-changing skills inside the cage. Dollaway took him down at will, and he inflicted more damage throughout the fight, definitively taking the judges' decision.
For the TriStar product, this is unacceptable if he wants to establish himself in the division's top 10. Now, he will tumble down the ladder, and he'll need to improve drastically if he wants to keep from becoming a gatekeeper.
What's Next for Dollaway?
While Dollaway termed himself a top-10 middleweight in his post-fight interview, he needs to face another foe just outside the top 10 in his next outing: Yoel Romero.
Both guys are elite wrestlers with powerful attacks on the feet, and they're both piecing together impressive runs right now. Put them inside the Octagon, lock the door and see which man is truly ready for elite competition at 185.
What's Next for Carmont?
The loser of the night's main event between Gegard Mousasi and Mark Munoz makes sense for Carmont moving forward.
Whoever loses that fight will be 0-2 in his last two in the division, and a fight with Carmont will help sort out who deserves to stay in the divisional rankings.