After a number of near-altercations and a throat chop within the lead-up to UFC Las Vegas, Merab Dvalishvili believes he’s humbled ex-champ Petr Yan.
“He should take a lesson,” mentioned Dvalishvili on the post-fight press convention after dominating Yan bell to bell in Saturday’s headliner. “He should not look over others. He was looking over others, now see what happens.”
Dvalishvili made the battle very private, calling out his Russian counterpart for a wide range of alleged misbehaviors. He raised the stakes by including geopolitics to the combo, citing the struggle in Ukraine and his expertise underneath Russian bombs as a teen in Georgia. Then Yan stunned him — and UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby — by getting unneccessarily bodily on the weigh-ins.
“After this, I was like, ‘This guy’s really stupid, and he’s a bully,’” Dvalishvili mentioned. “I should just do my thing, and after that thing, it made me a little more calm. It doesn’t make sense.”
When the 2 lastly met within the octagon, Dvalishvili was decided to face and strike with the fighter most thought-about to be a superior striker. But ultimately, it was his wrestling that stymied the ex-champ and led to a shutout on judges’ scorecards.
Fighters most frequently bury the hatchet within the moments after the battle, and Dvalishvili gave Yan his respect. It didn’t change his opinion of his opponent’s character, although.
“I’m a winner today,” he mentioned. “It’s OK. Maybe he’s a good guy. I think this loss will make him think more, he will respect other fighters, and he was thinking before he is the best, and he is No. 1, and I am zero. It’s not like this. We’re all human, and nobody’s perfect. You should not treat people like this. You should respect everybody. He didn’t respect me before, but now, he will respect me.”
Dvalishvili set a brand new UFC file for takedown makes an attempt, making an attempt 49 occasions to place Yan on the mat. Though the bulk have been unsuccessful, they saved Yan off steadiness sufficient to restrict offense, and finally, the Russian’s fuel tank emptied.
“I was just worried that I was going to show up,” Dvalishvili mentioned. “I needed to indicate up and never have any accidents occur, and I had additional stress to signify my nation, my individuals, my group, and we have been working so arduous. I need to signify good. I don’t care about dropping different fights towards whoever, however dropping towards him, I ought to kill myself or one thing.
“He’s a great fighter, but he’s a little bit cocky. I love fighters because they’re all humble and good people, and I don’t think this guy is a very good guy.”
The path for Dvalishvili will get extra difficult now that he’s defeated one other former champion — his second after ex-featherweight kingpin Jose Aldo — and is finest associates with present champ Aljamain Sterling. If Sterling strikes as much as featherweight after a title protection towards Henry Cejudo at UFC 288, a battle could possibly be averted.
If Sterling decides to remain at bantamweight, nevertheless, Dvalishvili is able to take excessive measures by combating at flyweight.
“It will be a tough cut, but it’s possible,” he mentioned. “Right now, I’m comfy at 135, and I don’t need to make any modifications proper now. It’s attainable, as a result of I lower solely 20 kilos. I do my previous fashion the place I don’t do scorching tub, I don’t water load, I simply do my factor, and I make weight. It’s attainable for me to make 125, however I don’t see why I ought to do it now.
“I’ll fight anybody,” he added. “I want to be busy and I will fight anybody. Whoever UFC chooses me to fight. I don’t have any problem. This is a good problem to have – to best friends and teammates. My best friend is champion, and I’m one of the top [fighters]. We are cleaning the division. That’s a good feeling.”