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A new contender in the bantamweight class at UFC 278 has emerged, and his name is Merab Dvalishvili. The Georgians made the statement in a unanimous decision win over Jose Aldo on the home floor in Salt Lake City on Saturday.
Aldo is expected to be the toughest test for Devalishvili to date. Did not disappoint. He looked strong and fast in the first round. As Dvalishvili sets the tempo for the fight, the Rio Kings are firing on counter-attacks and body kicks.
Most notably, Aldo was able to fill in early shootdown attempts from Dvalishvili, forcing the fighter into a Plan B.
This is not something Dvalishvili usually has to do. The Georgian usually knocks down fighters at will, but his knockout attempt in the second round made Aldo yawn.
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ALDO’s reaction 😅
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However, Aldo’s lack of activity could be his downfall. While he blocked every knockout attempt, he didn’t return enough offense to win the round.
So this is a blue The Machine award. A few moments would end in his highlights, but he did what he had to do to get out of the cage with a win.
Dvalishvili’s ranking quickly rose as he continued to accumulate victories. While Dvalishvili’s level of competition has grown, Aldo was his most notable victory to date.
The 31-year-old also beat Marlon Moraes, Cody Staman and John Dodd Sen. — only helped cement Dvalishvili’s status as a top-five fighter in the heavyweight division.
Getting to the top of the mountain can be complicated for him, though. He and current champion Aljamain Sterling are training partners, and The Machine insists he won’t fight his friend.
“We are still the same page where we didn’t fight each other,” Dvalishvili on The Fighter vs. The Writer said in. “First, I have to win this fight and Aljo has to defend his belt. I know he will. We’ll talk about it later, but we won’t fight.”
Of course, we’ve heard this line before, and former training partners and friends have been fighting. Currently, there are quite a few dominoes that have yet to fall before it becomes a real problem.