Aging legend Jose Aldo looked to turn back the clock for a fourth consecutive fight against streaking Georgian prospect Merab Dvalishvili at UFC 278 in what may have proved to be a number one contender fight.
Two interesting conflicts existed on paper for this fight: the takedown defense of Aldo against the wrestling of Merab, and the pace of Dvalishvili against the cardio deficiencies of the King of Rio.
Low volume was the name of the game for Aldo and it did not work for him. He continually defended Merab’s takedowns but would get stuck in the clinch. Aldo landed a decent leg kick, an intercepting knee, and one boxing combo but that was all, though likely enough to win the round. He was controlling the pace well, keeping Merab from tiring him out with superior cardio. The second frame was more or less one way traffic. Merab held Jose in the clinch for over half of the round, slamming knees into the legend’s thigh the entire time. Aldo appeared visibly bored and played to the crowd once, but he was still losing minutes.
In the final round, Aldo hardly threw a strike. For a while he avoided Merab’s attempts to crash into the clinch, but as time went on he got sucked into defending the takedown which allowed Dvalishvili to break immediately so he could land a strike over the top. The round ended with Merab bending Aldo over, circling to the back, and kneeing his hamstring while Aldo kept one hand on the canvas. It was a tepid affair throughout, but the Georgian had clearly done enough to get the nod.
Official Result: Merab Dvalishvili def. Jose Aldo by unanimous decision (29–28, 29–28, 30–27)