At UFC Fight Night 221 on Saturday, Merab Dvalishvili put on a commanding performance of cardio and pace, breaking the organization’s takedown attempt record en route to a unanimous decision win over Petr Yan.
Dvalishvili, who was competing in his first-ever UFC main event, pressed Yan (16-5 MMA, 8-4 UFC) mercilessly for the duration of the 25 minutes with a flurry of takedown attempts (47 in total), leg kicks, and frenzied boxing exchanges.
While Yan exhibited expert balance and avoided many of Dvalishvili’s efforts, he occasionally fell short. Yan appeared to have trouble maintaining calm and resets as the seconds passed. He didn’t have a lot of chances to relax, thanks to Dvalishvili. Dvalishvili was fired up enough between each round to stand rather than use the stool, having Ray Longo, Matt Serra, and UFC bantamweight king Aljamain Sterling in his corner.
Leg strikes and counterpunches were effective for Yan. Many leg strikes of his own were delivered in response by Dvalishvili.
A boisterous pro-Dvalishvili audience was present as the fight reached the final rounds, and his corner claimed Yan was quickly losing strength. Yan was still tenacious despite having puffiness around his left eye. Dvalishvili pushed forward, and Yan retreated. Yan’s eye’s initially minor puffiness quickly grew to a large size.
Prior to the fight, Dvalishvili and Yan made it clear they had negative emotions for one another. Dvalishvili listed a long list of concerns he had with Yan at a press conference before the battle, including nationality, gambling debts, threats, and more. Dvalishvili was originally ignored by Yan, who later cut him in the neck during the pre-fight face-offs.
Dvalishvili increases his winning run to nine with the victory. Dvalishvili has repeatedly stated that he will not fight Sterling, his colleague and friend who holds the UFC bantamweight title, even though other athletes in a comparable situation might be in line for a title chance.
Yan has now suffered three straight losses and has a current record of 1-4.