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Two Ultimate Fighting Championship bantamweights on the outside of the top 10 looking in are going to dance in December.
The news of the matchup first coming from coach Ray Longo on the Anik and Florian podcast, Merab Dvalishvili (12-4) will remain on the Dec. 5 UFC Fight Night card, and he will be meeting surging contender Raoni Barcelos (16-1) at bantamweight. Dvalishvili was originally slated to take on Cody Stamann, but a positive COVID-19 test scuttled the pairing. Dvalishvili has hinted at the upcoming matchup earlier this week, and it has been since confirmed by other outlets.
Barcelos recorded a win at UFC on ESPN 17 in November, taking a thrilling decision in a “Fight of the Night” scrap against Khalid Taha. The victory extended the Brazilian’s win streak to nine, with five triumphs inside the Octagon to date. Barcelos made his debut by rattling off three finishes over Kurt Holobaugh, Chris Gutierrez and Carlos Huachin. Since then, the fast-paced bantamweight has taken decisions over Said Nurmagomedov and the aforementioned Taha.
Like Barcelos, Dvalishvili has also won his last five UFC bouts. Unlike his newfound foe, all five have come on the scorecards. Rebounding from his first career stoppage loss, a technical submission defeat to Ricky Simon at the five-minute mark of the final round – a UFC non-title record – the Georgian has notched wins over the likes of Brad Katona, Casey Kenney and John Dodson along the way.
The UFC Fight Night event on Dec. 5 will take place at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, and its headliner also experienced a shakeup as Jack Hermansson will now fight Kevin Holland at middleweight. Also featured on the card is a light heavyweight battle as Ovince St. Preux squares off with Jamahal Hill.