As he’s made his way toward the top of the UFC bantamweight division, Merab Dvalishvili has lived up to every bit of his nickname “The Machine”.
Whether it’s setting an incredible fight pace, displaying his world-class cardio, or pushing through tremendous adversity to earn the victory, Dvalishvili has showcased that he can’t and won’t stop.
If you want an example, look no further than his performance against Marlon Moraes at UFC 266. Hurt badly in the first round, Dvalishvili was able to recover and completely turn the tables on the former title challenger with overwhelming pressure and ground strikes. The comeback TKO victory had every fan in T-Mobile Arena out of their seat.
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“When I left the arena that night people were asking me how I stayed alive and how I didn’t break. I was shocked,” Dvalishvili told UFC.com. “It was a big deal for everyone, but not for me; I was doing my thing. It was a crazy fight but, to be honest, that’s just another fight for me. It was a good, exciting fight and, from there, a lot of people gave me respect.”
That respect is well-deserved, as Dvalishvili’s win over Moraes put him at seven consecutive victories. The win also set the Georgian up for a massive fight with José Aldo at UFC 278: Usman vs Edwards 2. It wasn’t easy for Dvalishvili to sit on the sidelines for almost a full year while other bantamweights competed, but once he signed the contract to fight Aldo, he knew it was the right decision.
“I was waiting for the right fight, and this is the right fight for me,” Dvalishvili said. “Once UFC gave me this fight, I was shocked José Aldo took a fight with me, but now it’s just nothing. Everyone is a big name and I respect every fighter, especially at this level.”
Dvalishvili has always been a fan of Aldo and has been impressed with what he’s been able to accomplish since moving down to bantamweight in December of 2019. Aldo’s three-fight run of wins over Marlon Vera, Pedro Muhoz, and Rob Font proved that the former featherweight king has plenty left in the gas tank.
“The fact that he makes bantamweight at this point shows how hungry he is to be champion of this division, but I’m here to test him,” Dvalishvili said. “This is a huge for me. It’s the biggest fight in my career. Of course, fighting a legend means a lot, but it’s also nothing. I’m just going to fight hard and I’m just going to do my things like usual. I prepare the same and I have to show the best of myself. It’s just another fight even though he’s a big name and he’s done so much for this sport.”
Current UFC bantamweight champion and teammate Aljamain Sterling has seen Dvalishvili lock in during this training camp and he’s expecting Dvalishvili to put on the performance of a lifetime against Aldo.
“I think what has allowed Merab to rise through the ranks and show the dominance that he’s had is just his pressure and his work ethic. I think he will not be outworked by anybody,” Sterling told UFC.com. “He just doesn’t quit; like he’s willing to die in the Octagon to get his hand raised and he’s going to do everything that he can to fight hard to the very end. A guy like that you have to admire and a guy like that you have to respect when you step in the Octagon with him. He’s going to bring it to Aldo.”
Merab Dvalishvili slams Casey Kenney
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Merab Dvalishvili slams Casey Kenney
Defeating Aldo would place Dvalishvili firmly in the division’s upper echelon right up there next to Sterling and help him continue to gain the respect and recognition he’s been working toward.
“I think a win over Jose Aldo will give me lots of respect because it doesn’t matter how I can win this fight, I’m fighting against a legend,” Dvalishvili said. “Whatever the win will be, I will take it and I’ll be happy. I know I put in the work, and I don’t need to change many things because my style works for everyone and I’m sure it’ll work for Jose Aldo, too.”
“Today, we are opponents, and we have to fight and find out who is the best and, in this moment, I think I can beat him.”
UFC 278: Usman vs Edwards 2 took place live from the Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah on August 20, 2022. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses- and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!