Salt Lake City, UT – UFC bantamweight Merab Dvalishvili arrived in Utah for UFC 278 ready to face the legendary Jose Aldo for a spot on the short list of title contenders. He attempts to make the move on Saturday night.
Dvalishvili (14-4) has been out since Sept. 2021 when he defeated Marlon Moraes at UFC 266. The 11-month layoff left a lot of time to fill for the bantamweight contender.
“I was just training to get better. I went to spend training with Ilia Topuria. That was good trip. I had fun there, and after that I went for New Year in my country, but I get COVID there. I had to stay quarantined home, keep the mask on,” Dvalishvili told Cageside Press among other media on Wednesday.
“I wasn’t rushing because I know UFC has to give me big name or somebody good fighter, tough. Tough fighter and then I know it won’t be short notice and I know I have time.”
Dvalishvili got a big name fight indeed as he takes on former WEC and two-time UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo. A living legend in the sport Aldo has a long list of contenders he’s put away in his career.
“When UFC call me and give me this fight I was shocked because I was so ready for everyone but not for Jose Aldo. I was thinking I wasn’t big enough (to earn a fight with Aldo), but I guess I am. Then he take fight with me,” he said.
“Means a lot.”
A win over Aldo puts Dvalishvili at the top of the division.
“A win against him would be huge for me. I always feel love and support from the people, the fans, and now I feel respect from UFC too. I know this is huge for me,” said Dvalishvili.
One tiny problem with Dvalishvili winning at UFC 278 and being on top of the list to fight for the bantamweight title. His teammate Aljamain Sterling is the UFC bantamweight champion.
“We still same page. First I have to win this fight. Aljo has to defend his belt I know he’s going to do it. We will talk after. We are good friends, we are training partners. He’s helping me, he’s here with me, after fight I will go help him. He has a fight coming up,” he said.
“We’ll be helping each other. We are good teammates, good friends, we are neighbors.”
Watch the entire media day scrum with Merab Dvalishvili above. UFC 278 takes place in Salt Lake City at Vivint Arena on August 20th.