Merab Dvalishvili set a new UFC takedown record and secured his position as the No. 1 bantamweight contender with a phenomenal performance against Petr Yan at UFC Fight Night 221.
Dvalishvili, also known as “The Machine,” attempted an incredible 49 takedowns during the 25-minute bout, surpassing the previous record of 33 set by Cain Velasquez in 2012. He completed 11 of those takedowns and dominated Yan with 6 minutes and 53 seconds of control time.
Throughout the fight, Dvalishvili also showcased exceptional striking skills, landing 147 out of 338 attempted significant strikes. Dvalishvili’s impressive performance has put the bantamweight division on notice and cemented his position as the No. 1 contender for the title.
Does Merab Dvalishvili Fight Aljamain Sterling for the Title?
Complications arise, however, as current bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling, has a mutual agreement not to fight with Dvalishvili in the UFC. This stems from the friendship they have developed during training camp; both Dvalishvili and Sterling train out of Serra-Longo Fight Team in Long Island, New York and have expressed no desire to fight each other professionally.
“Me and [Aljamain], we are never going to fight each other, we are good friends. [Aljamain] is champion, I believe he will defend his belt and be a long-time champion, I have to win a couple more fights to [fight for the title]. But we will figure out something, but one thing is for sure we will never fight each other. Me and [Aljamain] , we’re never going to fight each other,” Dvashvili told reporters prior to UFC 266 in Sept 2021.
Sterling also shared Merab’s sentiment during the UFC 281 media day, saying: “We’ll figure it out. We just do so much for each other that it’s not gonna happen. That’s where I’m at with that, and I’m sure he feels the exact same way that I do. Iron sharpens iron, I didn’t get here without him, I’d like to think he didn’t get to where he’s at without me helping, you know? I recognise that, so that’s a friendship I’d never want to ruin over… over what? I mean, I don’t know.” Sterling gestures towards his UFC belt, “This thing, it comes and goes, it’s just a moment in time, like eventually I’m going to lose, and I’m okay with that. I don’t know when it’s going to be, and life goes on.”
Dana White’s Opinion on Dvalishvili and Sterling Not Wanting to Fight
During the Power Slap 1 Finale Post-fight Presser, UFC President Dana White had some honest words to say about Dvalishvili and Sterling not wanting to fight.
“Back in the early days, the camps were so small you didn’t have a lot of different options, so we had a lot of these guys saying ‘oh he’s my friend, he’s my friend’. You can still be friends and want what your friend has, you know what I mean? It would be a really bad idea for Merab to go down that path.
Does Merab want a shot at the title? Or does he want people under him to jump over him? And for him to take on all these different tough guys, when he’s not even getting a title shot when he’s next in line for it. That’s a personal decision that he needs to make, if that’s what he wants to do, I can tell you how that story ends, it’s not a good ending to that story. He’s a big boy, he can figure that out on his own.”