Every weight class in the UFC has its own intrigue, but nowhere are the tops as dramatic and volatile as they are in the men’s bantamweight.
Merab Dvilashvili pulled off a historic performance by winning a one-sided unanimous decision over former champion Petr Yan in the main event of UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas on Saturday.
In winning his ninth straight in the bantamweight division, including his eighth straight (tying the longest streak in UFC bantamweight history held by Aljamene Sterling), Dvalishvili set a UFC record with 49 takedown attempts, breaking the mark previously held by Cain. Velasquez with 33. Forty nine! No wonder why this man is known as “The Machine”.
Dvalishvili landed 11 of those takedown attempts, giving him 74 in his UFC career – tying him with Demetrious Johnson for fourth most in any division. But even the 38 attempts that were unsuccessful marred the fight, with Yan being fired before round three and leaving the boxer generally susceptible to being taken apart by Dvilashvili. Dvalishvili outplayed Yan 147-70 in key attacks on Saturday night.
Such a performance begs the question: What’s next for the big winner? When asked the same question inside the octagon after the fight, Dvilashvili pointed across the octagon to the bantamweight champion, Sterling.
But it was not a callout.
Dvalishvili isn’t just a training partner of Sterling. Both consider each other as brothers. They aren’t fighting anytime soon.
“Hey, man, he’s my brother and he’s the real champion,” Dvalisvili said. “Only me and him know who the real champion is, you know? He’s the real champion.”
So Dvalishvili is on a dead-end street? no way.
“Whenever he decides to move up in weight and fight the next challenge, wherever that is, I will fight for the title,” he added. “Of course I want to be champion! And now I prove again – I prove again – I’m ready!” , jeff wagenheim
What’s next for top fighters after UFC Fight Night?
Bret Okamoto takes on the big winners and top stars of Saturday night’s action by playing matchmaker for their potential next matchup.
Merab Dvilashvili, bantamweight
Who should be next: Winner of Marlon Vera vs. Corey Sandhagen on March 25
Look, this kind of performance gets you a title shot. But as long as his good friend Sterling is the champion, which is his right, Dvilashvili doesn’t want the title shot. So, what does this mean for him and the split?
This means that he will be asked to fight another battle. Sterling isn’t moving up to featherweight anytime soon. He’s got Henry Cejudo on May 6, and if he wins, he’s not going to leave the division before making a money title defense against Sean O’Malley. So, Dvilashvili would be asked to defend his spot in the line against the winner of Vera and Sandhagen.
Wild Card: Henry Cejudo
If Cejudo defeats Sterling, he will later fight O’Malley. Even in this situation, Dvilashvili would not be next. However, if O’Malley missed the fight for any reason, Dvilashvili would be an obvious replacement to challenge Cejudo for the title and avenge his teammate’s loss.
Petr Yan, bantamweight
Who should be next: Winner of Song Yadong vs. Ricky Simon on April 22
We see the unexpected every week in MMA. Now we shouldn’t really “shock” anything. But at the same time, Yan dropped four of his last five bouts, which is one of the strangest things to happen in recent years. Before he first fought Aljamene Sterling (and even after he lost via DQ), he was considered top-10 for pound-for-pound talent.
The decline has been steep. Yadong or Simon may be feeling like a hopeless opponent to him right now, but one of these two will win in April, and at that point, people will be focusing on what they’ve been up to in their recent feud. are doing. Both are wickedly talented and entertaining to watch. I could see a matchup between the yan and end up garnering a lot of limelight if it happens.
Wild Card: Daveson Figueredo
Figueredo is moving up to bantamweight and is looking for a big fight. He’s yet to say exactly when he’ll make the jump, but he just struggled in January. After this defeat, the vehicle needs a little break. This is a fight you could even chalk it up to the second half of 2023, book it early and give fight fans many months to look forward to. Despite their recent losses, this will be a marquee fight and one of them back in the title race in a big way.
Alexander Volkov, heavyweight
Who should be next: Sergey Spivak
It writes itself. There aren’t many options for Volkov if you go by the following criteria – someone ranked above him, coming off a win and not having fought him before. It is unlikely that Volkov will be fighting Jon Jones in his next bout. Spivak makes all the sense in the world. He was just past Volkov this weekend, and he’s coming off an impressive win over Derrick Lewis. Neither of them are in title contention at this time, but the winner of this proposed bout will begin to enter that conversation.
Wild Card: Tai Tuivasa
Two standup fighters. If the UFC wants a fun addition to a pay-per-view card, Tuivasa always fits the bill and Volkov would be a suitable dance partner. Spivak is the most likely choice, but depending on the timing and UFC’s needs on certain cards, I could see a Tuivasa vs. Volkov booking.
Nikita Krylov, light heavyweight
Nikita Krylov earns first-round submission win over Ryan Spahn
Nikita Krylov took the win by defeating Ryan Spahn in the first round.
Who should be next: Alexander Rakic
The great victory of Krylov. He’s made some missteps over the years, but if you look at his body of work, it’s highly competitive with the best in the division – and he’s very young compared to some of those other names. This guy is still only 30 years old, and this win would put him in the top 5. There are many potential fights ahead. Rakic is the most obvious.
Granted, that’s not correct. Rakic is on the losing side and has not fought since May 2022 due to injury. But he is at No.4 and has a dynamic skill set like Krylov. A lot is unknown with this weight class, starting with former champion Jiri Prochazka recovering from shoulder surgery. But knowing what we know now, this matchup makes the most sense for Krylov.
Wild Card: Jamahl Hill for the UFC Light Heavyweight Title
It’s wild, wildcard. It’s out there. It seems unlikely that Krylov’s next fight will be for a championship, but I can see a world in which it will happen. Hill had just received a title shot in January, when he was ranked No. 7 by the UFC, and Krylov was ranked No. 6 by the promotion heading into Saturday’s fight against Ryan Spahn. UFC President Dana White didn’t like the recent performances by Magomed Anaklaev or Jan Blakowicz. There is a good chance that the UFC will ask Hill to defend his title before Prochazka is ready. Can Krylov enter the place? It is not possible, but not impossible either.
Mario Bautista, bantamweight
Mario Bautista Uses Impressive Rear-Naked Choke To Earn First-Round Win
Mario Bautista earned a first round victory over Guido Canetti via rear-naked choke.
Who should be next: Cody Garbrandt
I think Bautista caught the callout. When they first said Garbrandt, I didn’t hate it but felt there would be more appropriate choices. And I don’t know how interested Garbrandt would be. But as I look through the bantamweight roster, it makes the callout Very Of understanding Bautista is great. He has been a bit overlooked because of how deep the division is, and his 6-2 UFC record is solid.
Although behind the scenes, people are aware of how much potential they have once they enter their prime at the age of 30. He is also a friend and training partner of Sean O’Malley, who Garabradant would love to fight at some point. Here’s a little story that encouraged Garbrandt to keep fighting. If Garbrandt were to beat him, it would say a lot about how much he has left in the tank. Smart call out by Bautista.
Wild Card: Davy Grant
Grant had a great win on Saturday and like Bautista, he has been a bit overlooked in this division because he has had some ups and downs. This man enjoys wins against quality opponents in Marlon Vera, Jonathan Martinez and Rafael Assuncao. This matchup will matter a lot.