UFC 278’s Merab Dvalishvili Speaks Out on War in Ukraine: “This Is Crazy. This Is Insane”

Salt Lake City, UT — Bantamweight Merab Dvalishvili has led the charge for Georgian MMA, and as a Georgian, he’s very familiar with Russian aggression. In 2008, Russia invaded his homeland, and that prompted Dvalishvili to speak out about the invasion of Ukraine on Saturday, following the biggest win of his career at UFC 278.

Having bested Jose Aldo, and sporting his traditional Papakha (a headdress worn in the Caucasus region of Europe), Dvalishvili’s style was compared to that of Russia’s Khabib Nurmagomedov. But, as he pointed out, the former champ is a Dagestani-Russian, quite different from Georgia, who have applied to join the European Union.

On the war, which has dragged on since February, Davlishvili said Saturday that “I want to say loud, hopefully we can stop this war. This is crazy, this is insane. The people are dying every day, and I cannot do nothing, nobody can do nothing. Whole world is doing sanctions, but I don’t know how you can stop this. Because people are there, normal people, and they are dying.”

Such matters may dwarf fighting, but Dvalishvili also picked up a key win Saturday over a living legend. “I don’t know what to say, man. I’m happy of course,” he told media outlets including Cageside Press following the fight. “This is my tenth fight in the UFC, and I feel like I don’t lose even the first two fights, too. But every victory is huge in the UFC, and then of course Jose Aldo, it’s big.”

At the same time, it didn’t seem as if “The Machine” was all that satisfied with his performance. “Yes and no. Yeah of course I want a more exciting fight, and I want to take him down. But he was good in footwork, it was hard to time him to take him down. And against the cage he was good, he was defending my takedowns good. And also I don’t spend too much energy, because I want to be ready for striking.”

In the end, Dvalishvili added that “It’s his job to move and do something, because I was winning [the] fight.”

Despite the enormity of the match-up with a future Hall of Famer, nerves did not play a factor for the Georgian.

“Actually I was most calm, most relaxed. Everything was perfect. I was feeling good, like no nerves, nothing.” Dvalishvili has said before, and repeated it Saturday, that he wasn’t expecting to land the fight against the legend. “But once they give me it, this is just another fight. Every fight is big, especially in the UFC. I came here, and I fight everybody. I came and I did what I had to do. I fight, and I win.”

Watch the full UFC 278 post-fight press conference with Merab Dvalishvili above.