Merab Dvalishvili can’t find any logic in a Marlon “Chito” Vera Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight title shot.
Title contention in the 135-pound weight class is seemingly up for grabs now that Sean O’Malley has taken the throne after his second round technical knockout of Aljamain Sterling at UFC 292 (watch highlights). Also competing in Boston, Massachusetts this past weekend (Aug. 19, 2023) was No. 6-ranked contender, Marlon “Chito” Vera, who earned a unanimous decision nod over Pedro Munhoz in the main card opener.
Despite the win being a rebound effort after a one-sided loss to Cory Sandhagen in March 2023, Vera now finds himself as the possible first challenger for O’Malley. Dvalishvili, the surging No. 2-ranked contender, is on a record-tying nine-fight winning streak in the division and couldn’t disagree more with the idea of an O’Malley-Vera rematch.
“‘Chito’ is joke, man. He’s not even top 5,” Dvalishvili told The Schmo. “He got dominated from Cory Sandhagen right before [beating Munhoz] and now he’s coming from a boring fight-winning. Everybody agreed he don’t deserve title fight and everybody knows I beat two former champions back to back.
“Jose Aldo beat ‘Chito’ Vera and Petr Yan bear Cory Sandhagen, Cory Sandhagen beat ‘Chito’ Vera,” he continued. “So, if O’Malley don’t want to wait, or some reason he’s gonna fight somebody else, I’m the next guy, you know? There is no one else other than ‘Aljo’ who should fight O’Malley. There is no one else. O’Malley should fight either ‘Aljo’ or me. I don’t want O’Malley to fight somebody else. If it’s somebody else then it’s me. Otherwise, he has to defend his belt against champion. That’s the real competition.”
Vera currently holds the only blemish on O’Malley’s 19-fight record, handing “Sugar” a first round technical knockout defeat via punches and elbows in Aug. 2020. If Dvalishvili wasn’t currently recovering from hand surgery, perhaps the debate on who faces O’Malley first would be clearer.
Dvalishvili noted that he’s ready and able to train again while slowly starting to punch and grapple. He expects four to six months before he returns to the Octagon, but is willing to fight through some pain to come back sooner for a title shot if necessary. “The Machine” stated that no other fights interest him, therefore, expect him to wait for his title shot.