Merab Dvalishvili pulled off one of the most insane comebacks in mixed martial arts history to finish Marlon Moraes in the featured prelim at UFC 266.
After he was dropped with a punch early in the opening round, Dvalishvili held onto survive and then stormed back to nearly do the same to Moraes once he secured a takedown. As the second round got started, Dvalishvili just continued to hammer away at Moraes on the ground until there referee just couldn’t allow the punishment to continue.
The official stoppage came at 4:25 in the second round as Dvalishvili picks up a huge win over a former title challenger while securing his seventh victory in a row overall.
“I’m training with the best,” Dvalishvili said when asked about how he survived that early onslaught. “That’s why I’m here. Seven in a row. I was hurt. Everybody gets hurt. I’m a warrior. I tell the referee, make sure if something accident happen, stop me when I’m dying.”
Looking as fast and dangerous as ever when the fight started, Moraes was showing confidence in his hands while throwing hard and fast combinations on the feet as he put Dvalishvili on the defensive. A willingness to trade strikes with Moraes backfired after Dvalishvili ate a punch and went down to the ground as the former bantamweight title contender looked for the finish.
Moraes was just pouring on the punishment and there were several moments where it appeared the fight could be stopped but Dvalishvili somehow survived the onslaught.
That’s when Dvalishvili grabbed onto a body lock and brought Moraes down to the ground, which then led to a barrage of punches and hammer fists. This time it was Moraes who was nearly finished with the horn sounded before Dvalishvili could put him away.
As the second round got started, Dvalishvisli was a man on a mission as he cracked Moraes with a stinging right hand that once again brought the fight down to the canvas. Once Moraes was on his back, Dvalishvili was relentless with his ground and pound including several punishing elbows.
While Moraes was doing his best to scramble and stay out of trouble, Dvalishvili was not giving him a second to breathe as he just continued chipping away with strikes from above. Finally with Moraes turtled up on the ground and Dvalishvili just unloading punches, the referee saw enough to stop the contest.
Already considered an incredibly tough out at 135 pounds, Dvalishvili has now established himself as an elite bantamweight with this win and now he’s waiting to see who the UFC will give him next.
“You guys tell me? Give me idea who I should fight next,” Dvalishvili said. “They can call me any time. I’m ready.”