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Midnight Mania! Daniel Cormier labels Merab Dvalishvili the one fighter Sean O’Malley must avoid to secure title shot

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The Bantamweight title picture has a clear line of challengers.

Next up, Henry Cejudo will return from retirement and challenge Aljamain Sterling. It’s a bit of a shock given UFC’s apparent disinterest in “Triple C,” but the timeline seemed to work out for the promotion. Though targeted for March, contracts remain unsigned, and now there’s rumors that the fight has been delayed to at last April.

Left on the sidelines is Sean O’Malley. Ranked as the top Bantamweight contender after his upset win over ex-champion Petr Yan, “Suga” is next up after Sterling and Cejudo settle their business. O’Malley says he’s been guaranteed the next title shot and is happy to train until the moment comes, but often, contenders are pressured to fight rather than wait for a title shot that may or may not materialize.

Retired former champion and current UFC color commentator Daniel Cormier isn’t against the idea of O’Malley staying active. However, he warns that one streaking Bantamweight is to be avoided: Merab Dvalishvili.

“There’s only one name I would steer clear of if I’m Sean O’Malley, and that’s Merab Dvalishvili,” Cormier said on his YouTube channel (via MMAJunkie). “Because I believe that Merab and his pressure fighting style could present some matchup problems for O’Malley. Am I saying no he can’t win? Not at all. But I’m saying because of the wrestling, the pressure, you don’t want to be stuck in there with Merab. The dude’s a savage.”

“I get being frustrated. But, Sean O’Malley, do not allow for the frustration to lead to bad decisions,” Cormier said. “I think the fight with Merab, when on the verge of a title fight, could be a bad decision. Yeah, he can win. Absolutely. I think the kid is as good as anyone. No one could have told me that this kid from the Contender Series will become this. It’s been great to see, and I don’t know when Sean will fight for the title, but I do know that when he does, it’ll be a massive moment for the UFC.”

Currently ranked at No. 3, Dvalishvili has won eight in a row. “The Machine” is durable and remarkably well-conditioned, allowing him to force a brutal pace and wrestle relentlessly. He’s the type of opponent that’s really difficult to defeat, let alone defeat impressively. Worse yet, he’s team mates with Aljamain Sterling and refuses to fight “Funkmaster,” so his upward mobility is limited until Sterling loses the title.

It doesn’t sound like a great fight for UFC or O’Malley, but it could certainly would be great opportunity for the Georgian talent if the match up materializes.

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