Jose Aldo vs. Merab Dvalishvili Targeted for UFC 278

Merab Dvalishvili, UFC
Merab Dvalishvili, UFC 266 early weigh-in Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

August’s UFC 278 has a key bantamweight bout in the works.

The PPV event looks to be the landing point for former featherweight champ Jose Aldo (31-7), who will face Merab Dvalishvili (14-4) in a fight that could produce the next 135 pound contender.

News of the match-up was first reported by Ariel Helwani; on Thursday, Dvalishvili confirmed the booking, with video of him signing his bout agreement emerging a short time later.

The news comes just as word of a bantamweight title fight between Dvalishvili’s teammate and current champ Aljamain Sterling and ex-champ T.J. Dillashaw began to make the rounds. The Serra-Longo fighters have long insisted they will not fight one another, with Sterling suggesting earlier this year that he would vacate the title before that happens.

Georgia’s Dvalishvili, a.k.a. “The Machine,” has been on an absolute tear of late. He’s won seven straight fights at 135 pounds, and is coming off a finish against former WSOF champ and UFC title challenger Marlon Moraes. Dvalishvili also holds wins over TUF champ Brad Katona, TUF champ/two-time UFC title challenger John Dodson, Casey Kenney, and others.

Aldo had been looked at as a potential next challenger for Sterling, at least until the Dillashaw match was reported. He’s won three straight at bantamweight, after being finished by Petr Yan in his first shot at gold in the weight class.

The Brazilian continues to hold the UFC’s featherweight title defense record at seven, but is still looking to add an elusive second title to his collection.

UFC 278 is set to take place on August 20, 2022 at the Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. The event will be topped by a welterweight title fight, with Kamaru Usman putting his belt on the line against Leon Edwards.

The following bouts have been reported for the card thus far:

  • Kamaru Usman (c) vs. Leon Edwards – for the UFC Welterweight Championship
  • Jose Aldo vs. Merab Dvalishvili
  • Luke Rockhold vs. Paulo Costa
  • Tyson Pedro vs. Harry Hunsucker