The welterweight bout was part of the preliminary card of today’s UFC 236 event at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. It aired on ESPN following additional prelims on UFC Fight Pass and ESPN+ and ahead of the main card on pay-per-view.
Griffin wasted little time starting the fight, rushing forward and throwing a big right hand. From there, he shot forward and drug the fight to the floor, where Imadaev grabbed the fence in defense and was quickly deducted a point for the infraction. However, the fight was restarted on the feet. Nevertheless, Griffin again rushed forward with speed and pressed the fight to the floor. Imadaev did his best to defend, but Griffin would not be denied.
Once on the floor, Griffin slipped to the back. With the two against the cage, Griffin struggled to get fully on the back, but he did wrap the left arm around the jaw and start to squeeze. Imadaev was in a bad sport, but he showed impressive grit in refusing to tape. Imadaev eventually was able to move to the feet, where he started firing impressive techniques, including a few spinning backfists and a big high kick, as well. Fortunately for Griffin, they all just missed the target.
The two moved to the clinch late in the frame, battling for position against the fence. Knees were traded inside, and the two slipped away for one final salvo on the feet. At the close, Imadaev flipped off Griffin before walking back to the corner. Chants of “U-S-A” came from the crowd during the break.
Griffin again launched a big right hand to star the second before pressing inside to the clinch. Imadaev was up to the challenge and remained upright. Griffin disengaged and then whot forward again, but Imadaev alertly rolled free and back to the feet. Griffin stayed busy on the feet with a lunging jab, and he was able to drive though for a takedown. However, he couldn’t keep the fight on the floor, and Imadaev was quickly back to his feet.
After a grinding battle in the clinch, Imadaev slipped away and looked to strike. However, Griffin was prepared for his flashy attacks, ducking a high kick and pressing forward on a spinning strike to take the action to the floor. Imadaev was again quick to his feet, and he fired every strike at full speed. A right hand landed clean, but Imadaev continued to grind, refusing to let the fight take place at range.
Imadaev did land a big kick to the body in the closing seconds, sticking his tongue out to taunt his foe, but Griffin was undaunted and fired back until the bell.
After a torrid opening two rounds, both men were clearly beginning to fatigue in the third but did not cease their attacks. Imadaev’s strikes seemed to be the more powerful blows, but Griffin refused to be bullied, firing back with punches and kicks of his own.
Imadaev landed with a clean right that seemed to briefly stun Griffin, but his follow-up attacks were pushed aside. Imadaev was clearly gaining momentum, but a perfectly timed trip brought him to the floor. Griffin scrambled like mad to keep the action on the canvas, but Imadaev was able to battle back to the feet. They stayed in the clinch, and Griffin dropped his opponent to a kneeling position, landing a few knees to the chest that looked dangerously close to illegal. But Imadaev refused to stay on the floor, and he again worked back to the feet, where the clinch battle began again.
Clearly exhausted, Griffin did land a big right hand in the closing seconds. But when he got a little cocky and tried a spinning strike of his own, Imadaev capitalized with a flurry of counters. The two men traded until the bell, where both fighters scaled the fence to celebrate. Ultimately, it was Griffin who was awarded the majority decision, 29-27, 29-27 and 28-28.
“This guy tried to attack me yesterday at the breakfast buffet, (and) when we were on the bus, as well,” Griffin said. “Never had I fought a guy that I wanted to beat down on. He’s an ass, a bully. In the end, MMA beat him – I out-wrestled him. I wish they hadn’t taken the point away from him. It broke the action and ruined my position. He’s a dirty-ass fighter and a cheater. He held onto the cage when I had underhooks and also held onto his gloves when in the clinch.
“I felt I beat Thiago in my last fight and they stole that from me. I had two losses straight and it could have been my last fight. This guy was an up-and-coming prospect. I was losing and I felt it was set up for him to win. This could have been my last fight in the UFC, so that makes this win the more satisfying.”
Up-to-the-minute UFC 236 results include:
- Max Griffin def. Zelim Imadaev via majority decision (29-27, 29-27, 28-28)
- Khalid Taha def. Boston Salmon via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 0:25
- Belal Muhammad def. Curtis Millender via unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 30-26)
- Montel Jackson def. Andre Soukhamthath via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 29-27)
- Poliana Botelho def. Lauren Mueller via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Brandon Davis def. Randy Costa via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 1:12
- UFC 236 results: Khalid Taha left hand earns 25-second win over Boston Salmon
- UFC 236 results: Belal Muhammad relentless pressure too much for Curtis Millender
- UFC 236 results: Montel Jackson impressive in one-sided decision over Andre Soukhamthath
Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: UFC 236 results: Max Griffin takes home hard-fought decision in Zelim Imadaev grudge match