Saturday night in the featured prelim at UFC 266, we will see an incredible matchup in the bantamweight division. Former title challenger and top contender Marlon Moraes (23-8-1) will try to get back on track as he takes on the surging Merab Dvalishvili (13-4).
Just a couple of years ago, Marlon Moraes was looked at as potentially the best bantamweight in the UFC. After submitting Raphael Assuncao in the first round at a Fight Night in 2019, Moraes got a title shot against Henry Cejudo.
After starting well in that fight, Moraes faded badly and it’s been all downhill sense. Cejudo would finish him and then Moraes would go 1-2 in his next three after with the one win being a very questionable decision. In the eyes of the public, Moraes has lost four straight.
While his career has gone down, Merab Dvalishvili’s career has surged. After losing his first two fights in the UFC, Dvalishvili has really taken off. The bantamweight from Georgia has won six fights in a row including wins over Casey Kenney, John Dodson, and Cody Stamann.
UFC 266 Prediction
It is truly crazy how quick the narrative change change when it comes the UFC. If this fight was two years ago, I would’ve laughed at anyone saying that Dvalishvili would defeat Marlon Moraes.
Now, I’m almost finding myself on the complete opposite side. I really don’t know what to expect from Moraes right now. When he’s at his best, he’s fantastic. Incredible striking technique with good power in his hands and feet.
He also has very good grappling. Dvalishvili is going to bring a ton of energy into this fight and he won’t stop moving forward. I’m expecting a lot of takedown attempts from Merab in this fight.
Ultimately, I think the energy level of Dvalishvili is going to be the key at UFC 266. We’ve seen Moraes break a number of times and I think Dvalishvili’s suffocating style doesn’t match well with him. I think you’re going to see Dvalishvili take a big step forward on Saturday.
Prediction: Merab Dvalishvili by Unanimous Decision