Las Vegas — Bantamweight Merab Dvalishvili was supposed to fight Ray Borg at UFC on ESPN 10. That plan hit a speed bump, however, just days out from the fight.
Borg was forced to withdraw, due to concerns over his young son’s health. A replacement fighter was quickly found in the form of Gustavo Lopez, a former Combate Americas bantamweight champion. The bout was bumped to a 140lb catchweight, and in the end, Dvalishvili’s pace was just too much for the newcomer.
In fact, as the fight wore on, the Georgian fighter’s wrestling became more and more dominant. By the end, he had secured 13 takedowns. The bantamweight record was 12 — also held by Dvalishvili.
“I love it, I love it. Yes! Thank you,” he exclaimed, erupting with joy backstage when told of the news.
It wasn’t something Dvalishvili set out to achieve. But he’s clearly excited about it. “It makes me happy. My last fight was twelve. Everybody proud, my team’s proud, my country’s proud. This is something else. This is not easy. I’m [going to] keep breaking my records,” he said. “Of course, I don’t try this — but I’ll keep breaking my records.”
The record puts him in fine company. He’s now one of two fighters to have more than ten takedowns in three UFC fights. The other being Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson. “That’s what I’m talking about. To mention my name with these great fighters, like Demetrious Johnson or Georges St. Pierre. He has a record I think also. This is everything to me, everything to my country. It means a lot to my team, my Serra-Longo team.”
Dvalishvili (11-4) has now won four straight, which should earn him a step up in competition. He had a name in mind post-fight, in fact: Sean O’Malley. It would certainly make for an interesting clash of styles.
“I have a big respect to [O’Malley]. Of course, his last performance was great,” Dvalishvili said when asked about the young bantamweight. “He’s a great fighter, everybody knows about it. But I believe in myself. I’m a nice guy, I’m not talking sh*t. I know what I can do. I believe in myself.”
It’s not the first time Dvalishvili has called for a fight with O’Malley. And he seems to feel his lifestyle might give him an edge. O’Malley is well known for his love of weed. “Like I said before, long time ago. He can keep smoking. I will keep training. And we’ll see. We’ll see. That’s how I believe. I stay healthy, I’m eating, drinking healthy, and he’s smoking. Keep smoking, brother. One day we’re going to meet in the octagon, and we’ll see.”
Watch the full UFC on ESPN 10 post-fight press conference with Merab Dvalishvili above!