This past Saturday night in the main event of UFC Las Vegas, we saw a pivotal matchup in the bantamweight division. Former champion Petr Yan (16-5) was looking to snap a two-fight losing streak as he took on “The Machine” Merab Dvalishvili (16-4).
It was evident from the opening bell that Petr Yan was going to have a tough challenge on Saturday night. From the moment the referee said fight, Dvalishvili was pushing forward non-stop. That’s the way Dvalishvili fights. He really lives up to the nickname of The Machine.
The big question was going to be could Dvalishvili last for five rounds fighting at his insane pace? Could Petr Yan use his wrestling and boxing to neutralize the advances and hurt Dvalishvili? The first question was answered emphatically by Dvalishvili who was like a wet blanket on top of Yan all night.
Yan never got going on Saturday night. Dvalishvili would strike then shoot for takedowns. Whenever Yan extended with power, Dvalishvili would shoot. Dvalishvili set a UFC record for takedown attempts on Saturday night attempting nearly 50.
In the end, this was completely one-sided with Dvalishvili controlling the entire fight. I was very surprised by the outcome and Dvalishvili made it known that he’s a legit title threat at 135 pounds.
Who is next after UFC Las Vegas?
After a performance like that against a former champion, you should be calling for a title fight. However, there’s a glaring problem. Dvalishvili’s lead training partner and one of his best friends is current bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling.
Sterling is currently set to defend his title against Henry Cejudo at UFC 288. Dvalishvili made it clear again on Saturday night that no matter what, he will not fight Sterling. Sean O’Malley is the top contender at 135 after those two and he appears primed for the next title shot after Cejudo gets his.
Dvalishvili seems to be lining up perfectly for the winner of UFC San Antonio. In a few weeks, Cory Sandhagen and Chito Vera will headline the promotion’s card in San Antonio. I think things are setting up perfectly for the winner of that fight to take on Dvalishvili sometime in the summer. Maybe even on the card where O’Malley gets his title shot.