Merab Dvalishvili confident UFC gives him title shot next, addresses Henry Cejudo’s future

Merab Dvalishvili doesn’t have anything in writing just yet, but he’s confident the UFC will follow through with a title shot after his win over Henry Cejudo.

On paper, his nine-fight win streak prior to UFC 298 probably should have already put him in title contention, but instead Dvalisvhili was matched up with former two-division champion Henry Cejudo. He passed that test with flying colors, and afterward UFC CEO Dana White confirmed that Dvalishvili is next for the winner of the upcoming bantamweight title fight between Sean O’Malley and Marlon “Chito” Vera.

Of course, nothing is certain until contracts are signed, but Dvalishvili believes the UFC will do right by him after notching his 10th consecutive win in a row with the unanimous decision over Cejudo.

“Yes, I believe [they will give me the title shot],” Dvalishvili said on The MMA Hour. “Nothing in person. The first time I saw [matchmaker] Sean Shelby, he came in the locker room and he said, ‘Great fight.’ He said, ‘This crowd was going crazy on you,’ and I’m like, ‘Thank you, sir. Thank you so much for giving me another challenge to show everyone. I am the next contender for the title.’ And he said, ‘let’s go,’ and that was it.”

Despite having endured 15 minutes in the cage on Saturday, Dvalishvili wasted no time shifting his attention towards UFC 299, where O’Malley defends his title against Vera.

In fact, the 33-year-old Georgian fighter offered to play backup for the title fight in case somebody gets injured and a replacement is needed, even with the event less than three weeks away.

“I am crazy. I will take it,” Dvalishvili said of the backup role. “They don’t offer [it to me], but at the press conference, somebody asked Dana and he said, ‘We’ll see.’ Nobody offered me yet but I would love to be the backup fighter.

“I’m good. No problem. I don’t have problems to make weight in five days. I can just live my normal life and I will start weight cutting five days before and I’ll be ready.”

Ultimately, Dvalishvili doesn’t really care who walks out of the card in Miami with the title, although ideally he definitely has a preference on the opponents. That was evident after his win on Saturday, as Dvalishvili took notice of O’Malley sitting stoically in the front row after just watching him get an impressive win.

“Of course [I want to fight] Sean,” Dvalishvili said. “He’s the champion now. He’s very popular on TikTok. I want to fight him.”

Dvalishvili ran into O’Malley backstage but didn’t try to cause a scene or stir up any unnecessary friction in an attempt to sell a future fight. That kind of controversy, while frowned upon publicly by the UFC, has certainly led to some matchups being made, but Dvalishvili just isn’t interested in those kinds of tactics.

“I saw him, and people are like, ‘Go talk to him, chase him!’ I’m like, why?” Dvalishvili said. “I’m going to fight the champion next, whoever it will be. I never chase. I don’t like drama.”

As far as Cejudo goes, Dvalishvili paid homage to his opponent and even shared a few words with him in the cage after their fight ended. There was never any real bad blood between them, and Dvalishvili says Cejudo left him with a message of support after his win.

“He told me, ‘Go get the title,’” Dvalishvili said. “[He said,] ‘You’ve got this and you can win this.’”

Prior to UFC 298, Cejudo stated rather emphatically that his fight with Dvalisivhili was do-or-die — he would either win and move on to fight for UFC gold again, or he would lose and retire from the sport.

Cejudo didn’t get the chance to address his future after the fight, with White later saying that the 2008 Olympic champion had already called it a career in the UFC previously, and the moment on Saturday night thus belonged to Dvalishvili.

For his part, Dvalishvili wasn’t surprised that the UFC didn’t give him any mic time, but he also hopes that Cejudo reconsiders his future in the sport.

“Usually, the fights like this unless it’s the main event, they don’t give you microphones, especially after a loss. I understand,” Dvalishvili said. “No [he shouldn’t retire], he’s a good fighter. I will never tell somebody to retire because we love this sport.”

Source link

You May Also Like