Top-tier bantamweights Petr Yan and Merab Dvalishvili are being looked at by the UFC to headline a Fight Night card in Las Vegas on March 11th.
Despite being an event in Nevada that isn’t a PPV, a matchup of this magnitude is not getting the soulless APEX treatment. No! This card will be happening at The Theater at Virgin Hotels in Las Vegas, and thank goodness for that.
Las Vegas Review Journal first reported the story, and Dvalishvili’s manager (Oren Hodak) told MMA Junkie that the match was confirmed. Verbal agreements are reportedly in place, with contracts expected to be signed soon after.
This bout is huge for the division in terms of relevancy, with a former champ looking to return to glory going up against a fresh contender on a crazy streak.
Yan captured the UFC’s vacant bantamweight belt back in July of 2020, and looked absolutely unstoppable at the time. Unfortunately for him, he ran into a major snag in his next match by striking Aljamain Sterling in the face with an illegal knee. Not only did Petr get disqualified for the foul, but he also lost his belt.
Yan did rebound from that with a unanimous nod over Cory Sandhagen, but then suffered back-to-back split decision losses — first in the Aljo rematch, and then to Sean O’Malley. Yan fans think that he should have gotten the win in both of those matchups, and don’t really view his DQ to Sterling as a real loss, so in some kind of warped way they still see Petr as the champ. Fanatics are going to fanatic, but I will say that out of every fighter on Earth who has only won one of their last four bouts, Petr is probably the very best.
Things have been a lot less weird for Dvalishvili. He is currently the UFC’s #3 ranked 135-pounder, and riding a wild eight-fight unbeaten streak. With a stifling wrestling game, Merab has racked up more decisions than anything, but he did knockout a chinny Marlon Moraes at UFC 266 in 2021. Dvalishvili bagged the biggest win of his career in his last match when he secured a unanimous decision over the UFC’s former featherweight champion, José Aldo at UFC 278.
This is definitely an important, high-stakes matchup for the division. The former king in Petr can take one step closer to getting back his crown, or there be a new title contender looming in Merab when it’s all said and done.
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