Merab Dvalishvili offers to be backup for UFC 299 title fight in March


ANAHEIM, Calif. – Merab Dvalishvili just got done fighting and he’s already offering his service to return in less than a month.

The UFC bantamweight contender picked up the biggest win of his career Saturday when he beat former dual-champion Henry Cejudo with a unanimous decision at UFC 298. After the fight, UFC CEO Dana White said Dvalishvili (17-4 MMA, 10-2 UFC) is next in line to challenge for the title at 135 pounds.

Even though he’s got a title shot guaranteed and just fought, Dvalishvili is down to be a replacement opponent for the Sean O’Malley vs. Chito Vera title fight headlining UFC 299 on March 9.

“That’s the only goal right now: fight for the title and win the belt,” Dvalishvili told reporters at the UFC 298 post-fight press conference. “I believe in myself and I’m only getting better, as you guys see. Every fight, it looks so much easier, and really tonight I wasn’t even breathing heavy. I was very comfortable, and this is only the beginning. I have so many years left of me because I live a healthy lifestyle and I change little things in my life, so I can be a full-time fighter and train hard and train smart.

“I’m just grinding and just blessed. Yeah, I’ll be ready. I can make weight in five days. If they need a replacement, I will be there. If not, I will just enjoy my time and train like I always train, and I will face the champion.”

Dvalishvili has won 10 straight fights, including three straight victories over former champions Jose Aldo, Petr Yan and Cejudo.

He’s hoping O’Malley keeps his title at UFC 299.

“I want to fight O’Malley because I’ve been calling him sine 2018,” Dvalishvili said. “He’s champion now. I wish he can keep the belt and I’ll fight him. I want to take his belt. I saw today he was wearing a nice jacket, so I want that white jacket.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 298.

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