Merab Dvalishvili is ready to get his hands on Petr Yan.
The bantamweights take center stage at the top of UFC Las Vegas this weekend (Saturday, March 11, 2023). Dvalishvili enters his first main event, riding an impressive eight-fight winning streak. On the other hand, there’s Yan who is aiming 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 for Dvalishvili to put a little extra work into his preparation. For Georgia’s best, however, the game goes beyond that.
“It’s personal to me,” Dvalishvili said at UFC Las Vegas media day. “He is from Russia, I am from Georgia, and we all know about Russia and what they are doing to Ukraine now, what they have done to Georgia. Russia in politics is not a democratic country I want to win for my people and I have a lot of 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 has no holes anywhere. He is a good attacker, he defends the fight well. His cardio is good and this is my toughest fight.
In terms of common opponents, Dvalishvili and Yan both hold notable victories over two-time flyweight title challenger John Dodson and all-time great Jose Aldo. Yan will likely need to put in a bit more work after a potential win over “The Machine” this weekend to get back into title contention. For Dvalishvili, that 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 no matter how good 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 be a good man to people and set 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 didn’t do big things like 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 does, nothing.
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