It looks like Merab Dvalishvili has succeeded in getting under Petr Yan’s skin. The longtime Team Serra-Longo talent looked to make things personal early in fight week with his statement that he wanted to take out Petr Yan as a symbol of his anger of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
“This is personal for me,” Dvalishvili told reporters during Wednesday’s media scrum. “He’s from Russia, I’m from Georgia, and we all know Russia and what they’re doing to Ukraine now, what they did to Georgia. Russia in politics is not a democratic country. I want to win for my people and I have so much support from my country and Ukraine, too.”
Help Build the New Bloody Elbow
Check out our new Substack for exclusive content.
Yan may have taken extra exception to Dvalishvili’s words since, by all appearances, he has been anything but a vocal supporter of Russia’s military actions. Back in February of last year, Yan posted a symbol of peace to his instagram stories, as a statement against he ongoing conflict.
Whatever Yan’s stance may be, things between the two fighters appear to have gotten pretty testy. During their Friday weigh-ins for their main event battle this week, Dvalishvili started jawing at his Russian foe as the former champion approached to square off. Once Yan turned to face Dvalishvili, he responded to the taunting with a sharp shove to the neck/shoulder area. The two men were quickly separated after that.
UFC Vegas 71 goes down this Saturday, March 11th at the Theater at Virgin Hotels in Paradise, NV. Outside the bantamweight main event the card is expected to feature a top-flight heavyweight bout between Alexander Volkov and Alexandr Romanov, as well as a light heavyweight bout between Ryan Spann and Nikita Krylov.
Reserve your user name for the new Bloody Elbow before April 1, 2023. Go here for more details (link).
About the author: Zane Simon is a senior editor, writer and podcaster for Bloody Elbow. Host of the MMA Vivisection and 6th Round, he has covered MMA and the UFC since 2013.(full bio)
About the author