Though he’s no longer a prospect, Rountree Jr. is a clear dark horse in the light heavyweight division heading into this weekend’s clash with Jacoby, a fight that could vault him into the Top 15 should he emerge victorious.
The 34-year-old Jacoby has been one of the cooler stories in recent years, returning to the UFC through Dana White’s Contender Series after an eight-year absence and building a seven-fight unbeaten streak. He’s won each of his last four and is coming off a first-round finish of Da-un Jung on Long Island in the summer, and currently occupies the “divisional dark horse” role Rountree Jr. is gunning for on Saturday.
It’s taken getting knocked down and forced to regroup a couple times, but this is the best, most consistent, most dangerous Rountree Jr. has looked in consecutive UFC fights in several years. If he’s able to maintain his winning ways through the weekend, the former hyped prospect could find himself with a number next to his name ahead of his first start of 2023.
In his first two years on the UFC roster, Dolidze has amassed a 4-1 record across two divisions, opening with consecutive victories at light heavyweight before moving to middleweight, suffering a decision loss, and then scoring two more wins.
The Georgian competitor struggled through a pair of tepid efforts in his first two appearances at ’85, losing to Trevin Giles in a fight better left forgotten before narrowly defeating Laureano Staropoli in a bout with little action and lots of clinching and grabbing. But he offered fans a glimpse of his greater arsenal and skills last time out, marching across the cage and flooring Kyle Daukaus with a heavy knee to the face that ended their bout in 73 seconds.
With good size and physicality for the division, Dolidze is the kind of well-rounded, still developing fighter that is capable of putting together a solid run to work his way forward in the middleweight ranks. He gets the chance to take another step forward this weekend when he steps into the Octagon against Phil Hawes.