UFC 298 Recap: Merab Dvalishvili’s pace too much for Henry Cejudo

Sep 25, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Merab Dvalishvili celebrates his TKO victory against Marlon Moraes during UFC 266 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

On the main card of UFC 298, we saw a potential title eliminator in the bantamweight division. Former two-division champion and Olympic Gold Medalist Henry Cejudo (16-3) was looking to bounce back as he took on top contender Merab “The Machine” Dvalishvili (16-4).

Starting with Cejudo, it was win or go home for the former champion. This week, Cejudo announced he would retire with a loss to Dvalishvili. He returned from retirement last May and lost a razor close decision to then champion Aljamain Sterling. At this stage in his career, Cejudo knows that a loss to Dvalishvili would be devastating for his title chances so he’d walk away.

Dvalishvili entered this fight with all the momentum in the world. After getting off to a rocky start in the UFC, The Machine won nine fights in a row entering tonight. His last two wins were against former champions and he was looking to defeat another former champ tonight.

UFC 298 Recap

Round 1

The UFC 298 bantamweight contest starts with a brief touch of the gloves. Leg kick from Cejudo starts the striking. Spinning back kick from Dvalishvili just misses. Cejudo tries pressing forward but nothing there. Cejudo very light on his feet but eats a calf kick from Dvalishvili. Long jab from Dvalishvili and he just misses the right hand.

Leg kick from Cejudo and then they both trade combinations. Leg kick from Dvalishvili. Check left from Cejudo rocks Dvalishvili but he bounces back quickly. Nasty calf kick from Cejudo lands. Dvalishvili seems to be clear but he got rocked big time by the former champion.

Single leg from Dvalishvili and Cejudo is trying to balance on one leg but Dvalishvili gets him down. Cejudo right back up halfway through the round. Nice right hand from Dvalishvili and he tries to rush but Cejudo reverses it and gets Dvalishvili on his back. Cejudo immediately into half guard with 90 seconds left in the round.

Nice short shots landing from Cejudo. Dvalishvili trying to get back up but he eats a couple of big shots. Scramble and now Cejudo is on the back of Dvalishvili. Dvalishvili back to his feet and he gets to the fence. Body lock from Cejudo. Both men are just trading shots in the clinch here. The round ends and it’s 1-0 for the former UFC champion.

Round 2

The second round begins here and this still feels like anyone’s fight at UFC 298. Dvalishvili immediately takes the center to start the second. Dvalishvili showing a lot more in terms of feints to start the second and he’s really upping the pressure. Leg kick and a jab from Dvalishvili.

Duck under and a takedown from Cejudo and he immediately gets the back. However, Dvalishvili is right back up and breaks away. They both step forward and trade big shots. Nice right hand lands for Dvalishvili. Cejudo gets in on a single but uses it to land a left. Big shots now from Dvalishvili.

Cejudo might be rocked after eating two huge shots from Dvalishvili. Dvalishvili really upping the pressure now and Cejudo fires back. Body shot now from Cejudo. Halfway through the round and Dvalishvili lands a left. Duck under now from Dvalishvili and he tries to get a takedown and he does.

Cejudo gets back to his feet but Dvalishvili still has a body lock from the back. He slams Cejudo down but Cejudo scrambles and they are back to striking with 90 seconds left. Cejudo is definitely slowing down but he lands a right hand. They clinch and Dvalishvili gets on a guillotine. He uses it to land a couple of knees and then he snaps Cejudo down.

Soft shots here from Dvalishvili. The round comes to a close and it’s Dvalishvili’s round which should make it 19-19 at UFC 298.

Round 3

Entering the final round and Cejudo looks very tired entering the final frame. He takes the center and lands a calf kick to start the striking. Cejudo lands a nice combination and Dvalishvili pushes forward. Leg kick from Cejudo and a right. Dvalishvili catches a kick and immediately pushes Cejudo back to the fence.

Cejudo might be dealing with a broken arm here and Dvalishvili is all over him. Cejudo is able to break free and he lands a nasty leg kick. Right hand from Cejudo but now a right from Dvalishvili and he tries for a takedown. Cejudo stays upright and they stay on the fight.

Combination now from Cejudo. Left from Dvalishvili lands. Halfway through the round and this still could still go either way. Big shots from both men and Dvalishvili shoots for a takedown. He gets in deep and picks Cejudo up. He carries him across the cage and slams him down. Cejudo scrambles back up but Dvalishvili is holding a body lock.

Takedown now from Dvalishvili and it’s going to take a big moment from Cejudo to steal this round. Cejudo gets back up but Dvalishvili is just pressing him against the fence. Cejudo breaks free with 20 seconds left. They start swinging and Cejudo tries for a takedown. He can’t get it and Dvalishvili is landing body shots. The fight ends and this should be a win for Dvalishvili at UFC 298.

Merab Dvalishvili def. Henry Cejudo by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

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