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Two weeks before his event, Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight Brendan Allen is going from a ranked opponent to one that is unranked.
The news first broke on Thursday from Fight Bananas that Brad Tavares has been forced out of his Dec. 4 match with Brendan Allen (17-4) for undisclosed reasons. When interviewed by Fight Bananas shortly after the news broke, Allen expressed his frustrations for losing his highly touted opponent at UFC on ESPN 31, and stated that Roman Dolidze (9-1) would be taking Tavares’ place. The two will middleweights will come to blows likely on the main card of the last ESPN show of the year, one that will take place inside the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
“Well man, honestly, the fight just changed, so no Brad,” Allen said in his interview. “We got Roman Dolidze, I guess it was [Tavares’] training partner, I don’t know how it all happened. Kind of weird, but yeah, happened here a couple days ago.”
Allen is unbeaten as a middleweight dating back to a Legacy Fighting Alliance championship clash with Anthony Hernandez in 2018. Making his way to Dana White's Contender Series after a trio of victories with LFA, including a victory for the belt and a successful defense, Allen springboarded up the division with wins over Kevin Holland, Tom Breese and Punahele Soriano over the last two years. His lone defeat inside the Octagon came in a 195-pound catchweight contest against rising talent Sean Strickland in November.
Georgia’s Dolidze rebounded from his first career setback – a decision loss to Trevin Giles in March – by claiming a unanimous verdict over Laureano Staropoli in June. The first six career outings for “The Caucasian” all went his way by stoppage, never once leaving a match in the hands of the judges. That finish streak included his UFC debut in July 2020, when he knocked Khadis Ibragimov out in the first round. Since then, it has been all decisions for Dolidze, who won one over John Allan, lost to Giles and then defeated Staropoli all within the year.
UFC on ESPN 31 will be held inside the UFC Apex in Las Vegas on Dec. 4, with a bantamweight banger as the headliner when Rob Font squares off with Jose Aldo. While the remainder of the bout order has not been made official, Jimmy Crute will face Jamahal Hill at light heavyweight, 10-1 Brad Riddell will face 10-1 Rafael Fiziev at lightweight and Matt Brown comes to blows with Bryan Barberena in the welterweight division.