UFC 298: Merab Dvalishvili Ultimately Too Much for Ex-Champ Henry Cejudo

Merab Dvalishvili and Henry Cejudo, UFC 298
Merab Dvalishvili and Henry Cejudo, UFC 298 ceremonial weigh-in Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

A key fight for the bantamweight division arrived on the UFC 298 main card, with Merab Dvalishvili looking to extend his imposing nine-fight win streak against former double-champ Henry Cejudo.

A title shot being awarded to the winner was a very real possibility for Dvalishvili vs. Cejudo, while the latter had openly spoken of retirement with a loss.

Early on in the fight, Cejudo was on offense, firing kicks and getting his hands going. That paid off as just past a minute in, Dvalishvili was rocked, though he quickly recovered. Later in the round, it was Cejudo rocked, but in a scramble, it was the former double-champ and Olympic gold medalist on top. Off his back, Dvalishvili tried to control the wrists; on top, Cejudo threaded his leg under Dvalishvili’s, tying things up before taking the back in a scramble.

After a strong start to the fight for ex-champ Cejudo in round one, he looked to build momentum early in the second. That included some solid work in the grappling department, but Dvalishvili still managed to find a home for his left hand. Just under two minutes in, Cejudo, chin up, was absolutely tagged, but he ate it and continued to trade. Dvalishvili then grabbed a leg, looking for a takedown and eventually getting Cejudo to his knees. Henry did make it to the fence, but he was soon dragged back down by “The Machine” Dvalishvili.

With 90 seconds left, Cejudo escaped to his feet. Likely down in the round, he found himself stuck in a Dvalishvili choke, a guillotine attempt that was tight — during which Merab Dvalishvili opted to have a brief conversation with Facebook/Meta chief Mark Zuckerberg, who was seated cageside.

Headed into the third there was a strong case for the fight being tied 1-1. Merab went after a takedown early, mixing in a kick, then driving Cejudo into the fence. Cejudo appeared to have swelling on one arm, perhaps from a blocked kick. He’d get off the fence, only to contend with another Dvalishvili takedown attempt. Dvalishvili’s legendary cardio was on display when he then hoisted Cejudo up, walked with him across the cage, and planted him on his back for an emphatic takedown.

From there it was merely perfunctory for Merab Dvalishvili, as he rode out the round to a clear decision win. And looked very much like a title challenger and future champ in the process.

Official Result: Merab Dvalishvili def. Henry Cejudo by unanimous decision  (29–28, 29–28, 29–28)