Merab Dvalishvili Targets Former Title Holders in UFC’s Bantamweight Division

By: Tristen Critchfield
May 2, 2021

Merab Dvalishvili showcased a versatile skillset against Cody Stamann at UFC on ESPN 23, and that should be concerning for the rest of the division.

The Serra-Longo Fight Team product’s grappling was on display to the tune of five takedowns, but he also kept his opponent off balance with a standup attack that included jabs, straight rights and uppercuts. All told, the Georgian bantamweight outlanded Stamann by a 71-to-48 count in significant strikes – including 49 to the head, 16 to the body and six to the legs.

During his rise to prominence in the UFC, Dvalishvili gained recognition for his wrestling acumen, landing double-digit takedowns on three occasions and overwhelming foes with his pressure and control. However, he wants to point out the he is a well-rounded competitor.

“I train with good guys and my style’s not only wrestling or striking. I can mix it up,” he said. “This is mixed martial arts. They never know what’s coming. That’s why my style is difficult for those guys. That’s why I make fights easy, and they think I’m weird and don’t know how to strike or wrestle. I keep winning.”

After beginning his promotional tenure with losses to Frankie Saenz and Ricky Simon, Dvalishvili has reeled off six consecutive triumphs in UFC competition – including five in the bantamweight division. “The Machine” has already established himself as an opponent no one wants to face, but he is eyeing some of the more accomplished names at 135 pounds. Namely, he wants to take on some of the men who have held UFC titles at some point in their careers.

“Bantamweight top 15 is really stacked. There are really good guys. I was ranked 12th (in the UFC rankigns), but I should be top 10,” he said. “To be honest, we have four or five former champions and they’re not fighting for the title. They should fight me. We have Dominick Cruz, T.J. Dillashaw, Cody Garbrandt and Jose Aldo. I should fight the former champions.

“I have to fight a big name because I have six straight wins. I think this is a big deal. I don’t mind fighting anybody. I just enjoy fighting in the UFC. This makes me happy, but I think I deserve big fights.”

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