Georgian bantamweight contender Merab Dvalishvili delivered a statement performance to defeat former champion Petr Yan in an incredible five-round display at UFC Las Vegas.
Dvalishvili faced off with Russia’s Yan in a bout that saw tempers flare during fight week with the tensions between the fighters’ respective countries forming the backdrop for a heated rivalry that was decided inside the Octagon at The Theater at Virgin Hotels.
Dvalishvili, who admitted post fight that he had to work hard to stay professional in the lead-up to the bout, produced a blistering performance to win every round on all three judges’ scorecards for a shutout unanimous decision victory. All three cards read the same, 50-45 to the Georgian.
The fight saw Dvalishvili push the pace from the first minute to the last as he never gave Yan a moment’s rest through the entire 25-minute duration. He hammered Yan’s lead leg with punishing leg kicks that eventually forced the former champion to switch to southpaw for the majority of the rest of the fight, while his constant takedown attempts set a new UFC record, with 48 attempts made by Dvalishvili over the course of the bout.
But this wasn’t just a wrestle-heavy approach. Dvalishvili relished the stand-up exchanges, too, and hit Yan with 147 significant strikes during the matchup, which left the Russian with a badly swollen right eye by the end of the fight.
“It was very personal for me,” said Dvalishvili after the fight. “But I tried so hard to keep it professional. My team was telling me because they felt that I was taking this fight different, and thank God I did (act) professional now I showed the world. Peter called me ‘zero.’ Who’s zero now? Who’s zero?!
“Everybody, I like I said, the only hard round I have is Aljamain Sterling. He’s the only champion, the real champion here. Everybody knows. My team knows. My style is difficult. I should not say everything here?, but please, come on. I welcome anyone who wants to fight with me. Come on!”
Dvalishvili and Sterling have vowed not to face each other, meaning the Georgian remains in a bizarre position of deserving a title shot, but not wanting to accept one until his friend, teammate and training partner has vacated the division.
“He’s my brother. He’s the real champion, and only me and he knows who’s the real champion. He’s the real champion,” said Dvalishvili.
“But, whenever he decides to go up a weight and fight the next challenge, whoever will be there, after I will fight for the title. Of course I would like to be champion and now I proved again, I proved again. I am hungry!”
UFC Las Vegas: Official results
- Merab Dvalishvili def. Petr Yan via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45)
- Alexander Volkov def. Alexandr Romanov via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 2:!6
- Nikita Krylov def. Ryan Spann via submission (triangle choke) – Round 1, 3:38
- Jonathan Martinez def. Said Nurmagomedov via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Mario Bautista def. Guido Cannetti via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 3:18
- Vitor Petrino def. Anton Turkalj via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
- Karl Williams def. Lukasz Brzeski via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27)
- Davey Grant def. Raphael Assuncao via technical submission (inverted triangle choke) – Round 3, 4:43
- Josh Fremd def. Sedriques Dumas via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 2, 3:00
- Victor Henry def. Tony Gravely via split decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28)
- Ariane Lipski def. JJ Aldrich via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Bruno Silva def. Tyson Nam via technical submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 1:23
- Carlston Harris def. Jared Gooden via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)