Merab Dvalishvili is ready to get his hands on Petr Yan.
Bantamweights take center stage atop UFC Las Vegas this weekend (Sat., March 11, 2023). Dvalishvili enters his first main event, riding an impressive eight-fight winning streak. On the flip side, there’s Yan who aims to snap a two-fight losing skid that started with Dvalishvili’s best friend and teammate, the current champion, Aljamain Sterling.
The history between Yan and Sterling is more than enough fuel for Dvalishvili to put a little extra work into his preparation. For Georgia’s finest, however, the match up goes beyond that.
“This is personal for me,” Dvalishvili said at UFC Las Vegas media day. “He’s from Russia, I’m from Georgia, and we all know Russia and what they’re doing to Ukraine now, what they did to Georgia. Russia in politics is not a democratic country. I want to win for my people and I have so much support from my country and Ukraine, too.
“Petr is a great fighter, he’s a former champion, we all know he’s tough,” he continued. “He’s dangerous and he doesn’t have holes anywhere. He’s a good striker, defends wrestling good. His cardio’s good and this is my toughest fight.”
In terms of common opponents, Dvalishvili and Yan both hold notable wins over the likes of two-time Flyweight title challenger, John Dodson, and the all-time great, Jose Aldo. Yan likely will need to do a little bit more work after a potential win over “The Machine” this weekend to get back in title contention. For Dvalishvili, it may be all he (finally) needs with this developing grudge match.
“He’s a good family guy, but he’s not a humble guy,” Dvalishvili said. “He’s not a great human, but it doesn’t matter how good of a fighter you are, you have to be a good person. You have to treat people well. I don’t care if you’re a good fighter or not, I just to be a good man for people and give a good example.
“He’s a cheater,” he added. “He was the champion and didn’t know the rules. He was disrespectful to my friend and when he was champion he didn’t use his platform, he wasn’t doing great things like any charity or humble things. I don’t think he’s a good guy. Maybe he’s good for his family, but other than that, what he’s doing, nothing.”
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