Originally published at UFC Fight Night Report: Merab Dvalishvili dominates Petr Yan
UFC Fight Night Report: Merab Dvalishvili dominates Petr Yan
On Saturday evening, the UFC held a Fight Night event from the Theater at Virgin Hotels in Las Vegas, Nevada. The card was headlined by a bout in the bantamweight division, between Merab Dvalishvili, and the former division’s former champion, Petr Yan. Dvalishvili had won eight consecutive bouts going into this one, last defeating Jose Aldo in August of 2022, in what would mark Aldo’s final fight in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts. Many thought that Dvalishvili earned a title shot with this win, but Dvalishvili is training partners with the division’s current champion, Aljamain Sterling, and both fighters have expressed an unwillingness to fight each other for this reason. With title aspirations out of mind for Dvalishvili (at least for the time being), the toughest test at 135 lbs is arguably Petr Yan. Yan has compiled a record of 8-3 since making his UFC debut in 2018, with two of those losses coming by split decision, and one by way of disqualification. It has been a very strong run for Yan in one of the UFC’s deepest divisions, but he was in need of a dominant win to get back on track, and a win over a fight on the level of Merab Dvalishvili would be just as big of a win for Yan, as a win over the former bantamweight champion would be for Dvalishvili. This fight also featured a notable heavyweight bout between Alexander Volkov and Alexander Romanov, as Romanov looked to rebound from his first professional loss.
The commentary team for this card consisted of Brendan Fitzgerald, Daniel Cormier, and Paul Felder. Performance of the Night bonuses were awarded to Bruno Silva and Davey Grant. Fight of the Night bonuses went out to Vitor Petrino and Anton Turkalj.
- Carlston Harris def. Jared Gooden by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
- Bruno Silva def. Tyson Nam by rear naked choke at 1:23 of Round 2
- Ariane Lipski def. J.J. Aldrich by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
- Victor Henry def. Tony Gravely by split decision (29-28, 30-27, 28-29)
- Josh Fremd def. Sedriques Dumas by guillotine choke at 3:00 of Round 2
- Davey Grant def. Raphael Assuncao by reverse triangle choke at 4:43 of Round 3
- Karl Williams def. Lukasz Brzeski by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27)
- Vitor Petrino def. Anton Turkalj by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
- Mario Bautista def. Guido Cannetti by rear naked choke at 3:18 of Round 1
- Jonathan Martinez def. Said Nurmagomedov by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
- Nikita Krylov def. Ryan Spann by triangle choke at 3:38 of Round 1
- Alexander Volkov def. Alexander Romanov by TKO at 2:16 of Round 1
- Merab Dvalishvili def. Petr Yan by unanimous decision (50-45 all)
CARLSTON HARRIS (17-5, 169.5) VS JARED GOODEN (22-8, 177) – WELTERWEIGHT
Gooden missed weight by 6lbs and was fined 30% of his purse.
Gooden connected with a solid leg kick to begin the fight, but Harris was able to successfully check the next one. The fighters traded heavy hands, with Harris landing the cleaner shots, given that Gooden’s hands were largely down. Both fighters wobbled the other momentarily, before Gooden defended a takedown attempt from Harris, keeping the action on the feet. Gooden worked his jab, while Harris looked to capitalize on Gooden’s complete lack of defense by throwing combinations of hard right hands. Both fighters landed with such considerable power that I thought this was a tough one to score, but I gave the slightest of edges to Harris. 10-9 Harris.
The fighters battled in the clinch early in round two, before Harris opted to take Gooden down against the cage. Harris pummeled Gooden from half-guard, landing numerous short ground and pound shots. Gooden did his best to escape the position and eventually succeeded, but it was far too late in the round, and this was a fairly dominant five minutes for Harris, who controlled every second of this round. 20-18 Harris.
Gooden dragged Harris right back to the ground in the opening seconds of the final round. Harris quickly mounted Gooden and started throwing down some brutal elbows, forcing Gooden to give up his back. Gooden was able to use the fence to escape to his feet, but Harris dragged him right back to the ground. While Gooden escaped a few more times before the conclusion of the round, Harris was able to take him back down every time, and the fight ultimately went the distance. 30-27 Harris.
WINNER: Carlston Harris by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
The fight was a rather evenly contested brawl throughout the first round, but Harris started wrestling in round two, and it quickly became apparent that there was a considerable gap in skill on the ground between the two. Harris’s three prior UFC bouts all ended in the first round, so it was nice to see a bit more of what he has to offer in this lengthier bout. Gooden missed weight by a considerable amount, but he took the fight on extremely short notice after Harris’s original opponent, Abubakar Nurmagomedov, withdrew from the fight, so I doubt the weight miss will be held against him. Harris improved to 3-1 in the UFC with this win, with that lone loss coming to Shavkat Rakhmonov.
TYSON NAM (21-12-1, 125.5) VS BRUNO SILVA (12-5-2, 1 NC, 125.5) – FLYWEIGHT
Silva opened up with a spinning back fist, which he followed up with a front kick to the head of Nam. Nam connected with several quick leg kicks, before the fighters traded hooks. Nam was the advancing fighter throughout the round, but Silva seemed to have a slight edge in terms of activity, while Nam seemed content to wait for opportunities to counter, which did not present themselves with any regularity. Nam landed a heavy kick to the body before time expired in the round.
Silva floored Nam with a front kick to the face just seconds into round two. Silva followed Name to the ground and sunk in a rear naked choke, choking Nam unconscious for the second-round finish.
WINNER: Bruno Silva by rear naked choke at 1:23 of Round 2
This was an incredibly violent finish. Silva threw up the front kick that dropped Nam so quickly that I was shocked that Nam did not drop unconscious immediately after the blow landed, but the finish came not long after, with an equally violent rear naked choke quickly putting Nam to sleep. This was a fantastic performance for Silva against a dangerous opponent in Tyson Nam, and he is quickly developing a reputation as perhaps the hardest hitter at 125 lbs. Silva’s UFC run got off to a rocky start with a trio of losses (although one of those losses was later reversed to a no-contest after his opponent tested positive for a banned substance), but since then, Silva has stopped three consecutive opponents, and will likely take Nam’s spot in the flyweight rankings when they are next updated.
ARIANE LIPSKI (14-8, 125.5) VS J.J. ALDRICH (11-5, 125.5) – FLYWEIGHT
Both fighters attempted to work their respective jabs throughout the opening minutes of the fight. Aldrich attempted to engage Lipski in the clinch but ate a number of knees to the body for her efforts. While this was not the most eventful round, Lipski was able to defend Aldrich’s takedown attempts, kept the fight on the feet, landed the more effective strikes, and ended the round with a strong flurry, so I thought this was a rather clear round to score in her favor. 10-9 Lipski.
Lipski continued to outwork Aldrich on the feet early in the second round, throwing numerous combinations Aldrich’s way, while taking very little damage in return. Aldrich had a strong jab but was not throwing her strikes in combination with regularity, and I thought Lipski was pulling ahead with this one as a result. Lipski continued to successfully defend Aldrich’s takedown defense, and punished her with knees to the body whenever she could. This was another round for Lipski. 20-18 Lipski.
The third round played out in a similar fashion to the previous two rounds. Aldrich attempted to work her jab, but Lipski was the busier striker and was able to keep the fight on the feet despite Aldrich’s attempts to bring the fight to the ground. Eventually, it was Lipski who secured a brief takedown, and while she could not keep Aldrich down for long, she landed numerous knees to the body as Aldrich escaped to her feet. The fight went the distance, and I scored the bout 30-27 for Lipski.
WINNER: Ariane Lipski by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
Aldrich was the considerable favorite heading into this fight, but this was a dominant performance from Lipski, out-striking Aldrich on the feet, and ultimately out-grappling her as well. Lipski’s takedown defense was especially impressive throughout this fight, stopping all of Aldrich’s takedown attempts throughout the fight while landing some brutal knees to the body before the break, every single time. While Lipski’s kneebar finish against Luana Carolina was certainly the highlight of her UFC run to this point, I thought that this was her best overall performance in the promotion, and her UFC record now stands at 4-5.
VICTOR HENRY (22-6, 136) VS TONY GRAVELY (23-8, 136) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Gravely began the fight with a number of low kicks. Henry attempted to pressure forward behind his jab but found more success with his powerful kicks to the body of Gravely. Henry defended a takedown attempt before the fighters began to wrestle in the clinch against the cage. Henry connected with a skillful sidekick to the body after the fighters separated. Gravely secured a takedown late in the round, but Henry popped back to his feet, and they wrestled in the clinch until time expired. 10-9 Gravely.
Both fighters were swinging wildly at the start of the second round, and Henry seemed to be a step ahead of Gravely in the brawl. Henry’s activity eventually started to overwhelm Gravely, who started looking for another takedown to take control of the round, and while Henry’s defense initially held up, Gravely was eventually able to take him down with roughly half of the round left to work. Henry escaped to his feet, and he continued to put the pressure on Gravely, throwing short elbows as he attempted to secure a finish. Gravely committed to a double leg takedown against the cage, and ate numerous elbows to the side of the head for his trouble. This was a strong round for Henry. 19-19.
Gravely looked tired at the end of the second round, but came out for round three with renewed energy. The fighters traded heavy hands throughout this final round, with both fighters knowing that the fight was likely even and that they each needed to win these final five minutes in order to win the fight. Gravely seemed to be out landing Henry, but it was certainly close, and Henry eventually opted to roll for a kneebar in an attempt to finish the fight. It was a decent attempt, but Gravely avoided the submission, and he landed a big elbow before time expired. 29-28 Gravely.
WINNER: Victor Henry by split decision (29-28, 30-27, 28-29)
While I gave the slight edge to Gravely, this was a very close fight. The second round was the clearest round of the bout for Henry, but the first and final rounds were very competitive, and could reasonably be scored either way. Gravely’s comeback in the third round was remarkable considering how one-sided the second round was, and he showcased an improvement in cardio over his previous bout, where his output really dropped by the third round. Victor Henry improved to 2-1 in the UFC following this bout, all against strong competition.
SEDRIQUES DUMAS (7-0, 184.5) VS JOSH FREMD (9-4, 186) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
Fremd attacked the lead leg early and was fighting quite aggressively. He stunned Dumas with a heavy hook at one point, before immediately shooting for a takedown, where he began to work from side control with just under three minutes to work. Fremd transitioned to the guard of Dumas, where was able to land some solid elbows, before attempting an ill-advised guillotine choke that allowed Dumas to escape to his feet. Fremd shot for another takedown before time expired, but the attempt was defended.
A heavy shot from Fremd wobbled Dumas roughly a minute into the second round, and he took the fight back to the ground with a hip toss moments later. Fremd began looking for a guillotine choke with Sumas seated against the cage, and the submission quickly came, forcing Dumas to tap.
WINNER: Josh Fremd by guillotine choke at 3:00 of Round 2
Fremd looked quite impressive here, overwhelming Dumas on the feet before dominating him on the ground from top position. Dumas was undefeated going into this fight and had finished the majority of his wins rather quickly, so he was certainly a dangerous opponent, but Fremd fought with confidence, which allowed him to pressure forward, land big strikes, and ultimately submit Dumas in impressive fashion. Fremd lost his first two fights in the promotion, so this was a much-needed win for him, and certainly his most impressive performance to date in the promotion (although despite the losses, Fremd did showcase moments of potential in both of his previous bouts).
RAPHAEL ASSUNCAO (28-9, 136) VS DAVEY GRANT (14-6, 136) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Assuncao caught a kick from Grant and took him to the ground just a minute into the fight. Assuncao attempted to work his way to the back of Grant, but Grant was able to escape to his feet and started pressuring forward with two and a half minutes remaining in the round. Assuncao’s movement and counters kept Grant from fighting with too much aggression, but Grant would find success whenever he really committed to his attack. This was a close round.
Assuncao chased after an early single leg in the second round, but Grant’s takedown defense held up. Grant was the more active striker in the fight, although he was very much fighting Assuncao’s style of fight. Assuncao partially secured a takedown later in the round but was unable to maintain a dominant position as Grant used the cage to return to his feet. Assuncao tripped Grant back to the ground, and he worked his way to Grant’s back before the end of what was another very close round.
Grant dropped Assuncao with a heavy right hand in the final round, and he went on the attack as he attempted to finish the fight. Assuncao seemed to recover quickly and attempted a takedown, which he was able to complete successfully as he began to work from the guard of Grant. Grant escaped to his feet and landed a big uppercut, and he began to walk Assuncao down, looking to finish the fight. Assuncao’s movement was gone, but his takedown attempts continued to trouble Grant, who grabbed the fence out of desperation and was deducted a point as a result. Now knowing that he was desperately in need of a finish, Grant really went on the attack, dropping Assuncao with a spinning back fist. Assuncao attempted a takedown out of desperation, but Grant countered with a reverse triangle, choking Assuncao unconscious.
WINNER: Davey Grant by reverse triangle choke at 4:43 of Round 3
Referee Keith Peterson’s choice to deduct a point from Grant for the cage grab, but not give Assuncao back his position was a controversial one, as it arguably led to Assuncao being finished just moments later. Keith Peterson’s logic was that Grant was on top due to the cage grab, which is sound in logic, but it certainly cost Assuncao a valuable position here. Regardless, Grant was in need of a finish, and he secured that finish in impressive fashion here, dropping Assuncao before sinking in the fight-ending reverse triangle choke, which is rarely seen in the sport. After the fight, Assuncao announced his retirement from the sport at 40 years of age. Assuncao was one of the UFC bantamweight division’s top contenders since its inception until recent years, defeating the likes of T.J. Dillashaw, Aljamain Sterling, Joe Lauzon, Jorge Masvidal, and Marlon Moraes over the years. Age eventually caught up with Assuncao, leading to losses in five of the final six fights of his career, but he retires with an impressive professional record of 28-10.
KARL WILLIAMS (7-1, 240.5) VS LUKASZ BRZESKI (8-2-1, 1 NC, 245) – HEAVYWEIGHT
Williams managed to power Brzeski to the ground in the fights opening minute. Brzeski did his best to escape back to his feet but was immediately dragged back down by Williams. This went on for some time, but Brzeski was eventually able to create the separation he needed, and the fight started to play out on the feet, with Brzeski pressuring forward. Brzeski defended a takedown attempt from Williams late in the round, and the fighters traded right hands before time expired. 10-9 Williams.
The fighters started wildly trading shots at the start of round two, resulting in Williams knocking Brzeski to the ground in a violent fashion. Brzeski did his best to recover, but Williams just threw him back to the ground, and he started throwing down strong ground and pound strikes from a dominant position. Things were looking rough for Brzeski, but he was somehow able to recover, and the fighters returned to their feet, both looking beyond exhausted. Both fighters secured brief moments of top control in the final minutes of the round, but there was not considerable damage done on either side, so this was a very clear round to score for Williams given the considerable damage he dealt out throughout the round’s first two minutes. 20-18 Williams.
Williams took Brzeski back to the ground just a minute into the fight’s final round. While he was not terribly active from top position, both fighters were completely drained by this point in the bout, and he peppered Brzeski with enough shots to keep his positioning, maintaining top position until time expired. 30-27 Williams.
WINNER: Karl Williams by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27)
A fifteen-minute fight between two unranked heavyweights is rarely entertaining, and this fight was no exception. Williams was impressive in spurts throughout this fight, specifically whenever he just powered Brzeski down to the ground, but he will have to improve his cardio as he attempts to work his way up the heavyweight ladder. Still, he won the fight decisively against Brzeski here, who was unable to defend Williams’ attempts to bring the fight to the ground with any consistency. This fight marked Williams’ UFC debut.
VITOR PETRINO (7-0, 204) VS ANTON TURKALJ (8-1, 205) – LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT
Petrino took Turkalj to the ground with a body lock just seconds into the fight. Turkalj made it back to his feet before securing a takedown of his own, but Petrino popped back to his feet and they wrestled against the cage. The fighters eventually separated, and Petrino seemed to be landing with more power, although they landed at a similar rate. Turkalj connected with an accidental knee to the groin, and Petrino was given time to recover as a result. Petrino was rocking Turkalj every time that he landed on his feet, and he eventually really started going on the attack, forcing Turkalj to fall to the ground from the accumulated damage. Petrino followed him to the ground, but ate an up kick on his way down, and spent the remainder of the round in top position. 10-9 Petrino.
A big left hand stumbled Turkalj early in the second round before Petrino took Turkalj back to the ground with another body lock. Turkalj reversed the positioning and took the back of Petrino, but Petrino slipped out from under him and started working from his guard with just over three minutes remaining in the round. The fighters eventually returned to their feet after a number of reversals of positioning, and Turkalj rocked Petrino with a flurry. Petrino recovered and defended a takedown attempt to end a wild round. 19-19.
Turkalj took the back of Petrino on the feet, and he dragged him down to the ground, where he locked in a body triangle. Petrino turned into the body triangle and mounted Turkalj with four minutes to work. Turkalj attempted to use the fence to make it back to his feet but turned right into a rear naked choke from Petrino. The positioning was slightly off, which allowed Turkalj to return to Petrino’s back, where Petrino proceeded to shake him off, taking top position once more. Turkalj escaped to his feet, and the fighters separated with a minute to work. Petrino slammed Turkalj to the ground at the end of the round, claiming the fight’s final big moment. 29-28 Petrino.
WINNER: Vitor Petrino by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
This was a wild fight, filled with unexpected changes in positioning and momentum throughout all three rounds. Early in the fight, Petrino seemed to be a level above Turkalj, taking him down at will, and rocking him every time he landed with power, but his gas tank quickly started to drain, and Turkalj began to fire back, rocking Petrino on the feet, securing takedowns of his own, and attempting submissions. Still, Petrino was a bit too much for him, escaping tough positions on the ground, and securing takedowns whenever necessary. This fight marked Petrino’s UFC debut, and Turkalj fell to 0-2 in the promotion following this loss.
MARIO BAUTISTA (11-2, 136) VS GUIDO CANNETTI (10-6, 136) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Bautista secured a quick takedown following a quick start on the feet from Cannetti. Cannetti escaped to his feet before tripping Bautista down, but Bautista quickly reversed the positioning and climbed up the back of Cannetti. Bautista opted to suplex Cannetti back to the ground, and Bautista locked in a rear naked choke as the fight hit the ground, forcing Bautista to submit.
WINNER: Mario Bautista by rear naked choke at 3:18 of Round 1
There were some impressive grappling sequences throughout this fight’s short duration, but the highlight of course, was the finish. Bautista sent Cannetti to the ground with a belly-to-back suplex, and as Cannetti sat up, Bautista caught him with a rear naked choke, securing the first-round finish. It was a very impressive performance from Bautista, who has now submitted his last three opponents, all in the first round. Bautista is now 6-2 in the UFC, and in his post-fight interview, he called for a fight against a ranked opponent, or Cody Garbrandt.
SAID NURMAGOMEDOV (17-2, 136) VS JONATHAN MARTINEZ (17-4, 135.5) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Nurmagomedov tagged Martinez with kicks early, landing on the head as well as the body. Martinez got a bit too close to Nurmagomedov and was taken down as a result. Nurmagomedov threatened a rear naked choke, but the positioning was off, and Martinez escaped to his feet with just under three minutes remaining in the round. A spinning elbow from Nurmagomedov hurt Martinez, but Martinez powered through it and shot for a takedown of his own. Nurmagomedov defended the attempt and took Martinez down momentarily with a headlock. 10-9 Nurmagomedov.
Nurmagomedov caught a leg and took Martinez down in the opening minute of the second round. Martinez escaped to his feet, where he ate a spinning back fist before defending a takedown from Nurmagomedov. Martinez held Nurmagomedov against the cage for a lengthy period of time but was unable to do much damage, and Nurmagomedov outlanded Martinez on the feet for the remainder of the round. 20-18 Nurmagomedov.
Nurmagomedov timed a right hand as Martinez was off balance, which sent Martinez to the ground. Nurmagomedov took top position, but Martinez threw up a triangle choke that forced Nurmagomedov to give up the position. Nurmagomedov took the back of Martinez and started hunting for a rear naked choke, but he was unable to find the submission, and Martinez escaped to his feet, where he pressed Nurmagomedov against the fence for the remainder of the round. 29-28 Nurmagomedov.
WINNER: Jonathan Martinez by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
I was surprised by the decision here, as I thought Nurmagomedov comfortably took the first two rounds, but Martinez earned the second round on all three judges’ scorecards. I thought Nurmagomedov appeared to be the stronger fighter, as well as the stronger grappler, however, Martinez found success in the clinch, and had Nurmagomedov in a legitimate spot of trouble in round three after throwing up a triangle choke from his guard. In his post-fight interview, Martinez called out Dominick Cruz as well as Deiveson Figueiredo, although he was unable to remember Figueiredo’s name at the moment.
NIKITA KRYLOV (29-9, 213) VS RYAN SPANN (21-7, 213) – CATCHWEIGHT
There was a wild exchange to begin the fight, where both fighters got cracked before a scramble resulted in Spann taking top position. Krylov chased after a single leg and took top position following a guillotine attempt from Spann. Spann escaped to his feet but was dragged back to the ground by Krylov. Both fighters attempted multiple submissions, but in the end, it was Nikita Krylov sank in a triangle choke, forcing Spann to submit.
WINNER: Nikita Krylov by triangle choke at 3:38 of Round 1
The pace of this fight was wild for a light heavyweight bout, and it was clear that both fighters were looking to end this one early. It felt as though neither fighter could maintain a dominant position on the ground for more than ten seconds, as the positional reversals and submission attempts were occurring so rapidly. With that being said, Krylov always seemed to be just the slightest step ahead of Spann, and he ultimately emerged victorious after trapping Spann in the fight-ending triangle choke. Krylov has now won three-consecutive fights, and as the sixth-ranked fighter in a rather shallow division, Krylov may have a big fight on the horizon for him coming off of this win.
ALEXANDER VOLKOV (35-10, 258) VS ALEXANDER ROMANOV (16-1, 264.5) – HEAVYWEIGHT
Volkov defended a takedown from Romanov with some help from a cage grab to begin the fight. Volkov went on the attack, and a right hand forced Romanov to shoot for a desperation takedown. Volkov stuffed the attempt and took the back of Romanov, where he started throwing down ground and pound shots. Romanov was unable to defend himself from this position, and Volkov just continued to throw down strikes until the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Alexander Volkov by TKO at 2:16 of Round 1
Volkov absolutely dominated Romanov here. After defending Romanov’s first takedown attempt of the fight (with some help from a cage grab), Volkov just started walking Romanov down, with complete disregard for Romanov’s power. Volkov quickly rocked him and proceeded to take his back on the ground, where he flattened Romanov out and threw down strikes until the fight was stopped. It was a poor performance from Romanov, who was once considered one of the division’s top prospects, but a great win for Volkov, who remains one of the top heavyweights in the sport nearly fifteen years into his career.
PETR YAN (16-4, 136) VS MERAB DVALISHVILI (15-4, 134.5) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Yan pulled away when Dvalishvili went for the glove touch to start the fight. Dvalishvili secured an early takedown and swarmed Yan with strikes as he escaped. Dvalishvili was fighting at quite the pace in the opening round, while Yan largely responded with the occasional calf kick to limit his movement. Dvalishvili landed some calf kicks of his own, and the kicks got some big reactions from Yan, although Yan continued to defend Dvalishvili’s takedown attempts successfully. Yan shot for a takedown, but Dvalishvili took top position, landing some knees as Yan picked himself up. 10-9 Dvalishvili.
Dvalishvili continued to pressure forward in round two, attempting to overwhelm Yan with his output. The leg kicks were adding up for Dvalishvili, and Yan was falling far behind in this fight in terms of output. Dvalishvili changed levels, taking Yan down with just under three minutes to work. Yan escaped to his feet and secured a takedown of his own after tripping Dvalishvili down, but it did not take Dvalishvili long to pop back to his feet. Both fighters secured another takedown before the end of the round. 20-18 Dvalishvili.
Dvalishvili’s pace had not faded by the third round. He continued to put the pressure on Yan, who was swinging back with power in an attempt to slow Dvalishvili’s attack but was missing his target. Dvalishvili just continued to attempt takedown after takedown, and while Yan defended the majority of the attempts, he never had an opportunity to generate any offense of his own, and Dvalishvili took this round based on output alone. 30-27 Dvalishvili.
Dvalishvili recorded another takedown early in the fourth round, although Yan quickly escaped to his feet. Dvalishvili’s pace was something to behold here, and Yan desperately attempted to slow him down by holding him against the cage. Dvalishvili broke away and resumed his attack, pressing forward constantly. Yan seemed to have no answers for Dvalishvili and was frustrated by his own lack of success throughout the fight. I thought this was another round for Dvalishvili. 40-36 Dvalishvili.
Yan’s right eye had nearly swollen shut by the final round. Dvalishvili defended a takedown attempt from Yan, before securing one of his own. Yan escaped but was constantly on the retreat, and much like the previous four rounds, he was largely unable to generate any offense, while Dvalishvili landed strikes, attempted takedowns, and controlled the pace. The fight went the distance, and I scored the bout 50-45 for Dvalishvili.
WINNER: Merab Dvalishvili by unanimous decision (50-45 all)
This was one of the best performances by a fighter in recent memory, and complete domination from Merab Dvalishvili, who won every single minute of this fight. Dvalishvili’s pace throughout this fight was absolutely insane, and if Yan was waiting for him to slow down at some point, that point never came, in fact, Dvalishvili looked as though he was ready for another five rounds by the end of this one. I cannot overstate what a star-making performance this was for Dvalishvili, who very much feels like the fighter to beat at bantamweight now, despite not being the division’s champion. In his post-fight interview, he once again made it clear that he will not fight Aljamain Sterling for any reason but seems perfectly willing to fight anyone else in the division, and I imagine Dvalishvili will open up as the significant favorite, regardless of his opponent. For Yan, this was a very tough loss, and he has now lost four of his last five fights. He is certainly a very talented fighter, and all of his previous losses can be in someway contested, but this was as decisive of a loss as you’ll see in the sport, and he may need to make some adjustments to his game in the future, namely, increasing his output offensively, which has hurt him on the scorecards as of late.