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UFC Las Vegas: Merab Dvalishvili carries devastating momentum into shutout win over Petr Yan

Merab Dvilashvili scored his ninth straight win on Saturday when he defeated former bantamweight champion Petr Yan. (Photo by Chris Unger / Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS — Seconds into his crucial bantamweight bout with Petr Yan, Merab Dvilashvili laid out his game plan: He unleashed a relentless pace while using superior cardiovascular conditioning to knock out the former champion and take a shot at Theater The Virgin Earned the dominant shutout victory. hotel.

Dvilashvili is nicknamed “The Machine” because he can work hard from start to finish, but he took things to another level.

He was going for takedowns the entire time, but he also got the best of striking exchanges and just pummeled Yan from start to finish. It was 50-45 on all three cards and it really wasn’t that close.

Dvilashvili had a 147-75 edge in critical strikes, but it was the wrestling stats that were the real eye-opener in this fight. Dvilashvili scored 11 takedowns on an incredible 49 attempts, nearly two per minute, and he never stopped going for it. Yan was just 1-of-5 in takedowns.

Dvilashvili’s pace was devastating. He made 202 out of 401 strikes and defended the bat for the full 25 minutes. Yan had a swollen right eye and was throwing elbows to Dvilashvili midway through the third round.

Yan had some moments to note in the bout, and the best of them came as a result of him defending the takedown. His balance and defensive wrestling, as always, were excellent, but he put up very little offense.

Dvaliashvili never gave him a moment to catch his breath or get his distance. He was on top of the Russian throughout and the vehicle could not hold the pace that Dvilashvili had set.

Dvilashvili, who is a teammate, training partner and close friend of bantamweight champion Aljamene Sterling, beat Yann more clearly than Sterling or Sean O’Malley in their previous two bouts. Yan lost split decisions to both of those men but they each had their moments.

On Saturday, he had little to offer Dvilashvili, who was bouncing and dancing in the ring like Clay Guida and looking like he might fight 10 rounds at the same pace.

The ease with which Dvalishvili dispatched Yan came as no surprise to Sterling, who fought Yan twice.

“Was I surprised by that? Not at all,” Sterling said. “Everybody makes this big monster (van), but that’s not everything.”

Yan was seeded No. 2 and Dvalishvili No. 3 in the fight, and Dvalishvili would clearly move up to No. 2 after this performance. Sterling and former double champion Henry Cejudo will fight for the title on May 6 at UFC 288 in Newark, New Jersey.

It might make sense for O’Malley and Dvilashvili to fight to determine the No. 1 contender.

However, there is no doubt that Dvilashvili is a threat to anyone in the division. Dvalishvili is coming off a one-sided victory over Hall of Famer Jose Aldo, but he doesn’t get full credit for that win at UFC 278 on August 20 as it was Aldo’s final fight.

He clearly established that he is not only an elite contender in the division, but will be difficult for anyone to beat if he fights like Saturday.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 11: Petr Yan of Russia celebrates after his decision loss to Merab Dvilashvili of Georgia in a bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at The Theater at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas on March 11, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada gave a response  ,  (Photo by Chris Unger / Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Petr Yan fell to 16-5 after losing his third straight fight on Saturday. (Photo by Chris Unger / Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

He fought emotionally because he is from the Republic of Georgia and the vehicle is from Russia and does not form between the two countries. He put pressure on himself by talking a lot of nonsense before the fight, but he was able to back it up.

He said he was motivated to win for several reasons, including as a way to show support to the Ukrainian people following Russia’s invasion last year.

“Russia does not want to be friendly with other countries,” Dvilashvili said. “… Russia wants to be on its own. They say, ‘If you go to NATO, we’ll kill you,’ and they start throwing bombs.”

The pressure mounted on Dvalishvili when Yan stomped on his throat at Friday’s weigh-in. He said he called Yan a name after that, for which he apologized on Saturday and knew he had to take his game to another level.

He did so with an amazing effort that was clearly championship-calibre.

The geopolitical situation of the world subsequently rested on Dvalishvili. He cheered himself up, talking about his country, the support he has received from his countrymen, and Russia’s relations with its neighbors.

“We can’t stop Russia but at least we can beat them at the game,” he said. “… I hope this war will stop and we can live in peace in this world.”



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