It wasn’t a highlight reel victory but Merab Dvalishvili still got the job done against his toughest competition to date.
The bantamweight prospect was constantly looking for takedowns as he marched John Dodson across the octagon for the better part of 15 minutes to get the unanimous decision win. All three judges scored the fight 30-27 for Dvalishvili, who has now won five consecutive fights.
“That was the biggest test in my life, in my fighting career but it was easy,” Dvalishvili said afterwards. “I’m not even tired. I’m training with the best guys. This is just the beginning of my career.
It took some time for Dvalishvili to finally make his first attempt at a takedown but after more than two minutes spent on the feet, he got a grip on Dodson to bring him to the mat. Dodson was quick to scramble off the ground but he was still stuck with Dvalishvili hanging onto his back from the body lock.
As the fight continued, Dvalishvili continued to hunt for an opening to apply his wrestling but Dodson was incredibly elusive to avoid his grappling. Unfortunately, Dodson was playing defense so often that he wasn’t letting his hands go in return.
Dvalishvili’s ability to press forward and threaten with the takedown kept Dodson from ever unleashing with any real combinations.
With five minutes remaining, Dvalishvili was able to crack Dodson with a couple of right hands but he still couldn’t keep the former Ultimate Fighter winner underneath him whenever he did manage to latch onto a takedown. Still, Dvalishvili continued to press the action while bullying Dodson with enough forward movement that he won a clear cut decision.
Following the win, Dvalishvili doubled down on a call out he made prior to the fight while taking aim at one of the bantamweights competing in the UFC 252 co-main event.
“Good luck Sean O’Malley,” Dvalishvili said. “I wish him the best. I want him to win, we’ll see after.”