UFC 278: Usman vs. Edwards 2 took place August 30 at the Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. Former UFC champion Jose Aldo (31-7) and Merab Dvalishvili (14-4) collided in a key bantamweight fight. The fight aired live on ESPN+ pay-per-view.
Catch the video highlights below.
For more on Aldo vs. Dvalishvili, check out our live blog from MMA Fighting’s Jed Meshew.
Both men come out in orthodox and it’s Aldo who starts taking the center in his classic stance. Also is flashing that front leg early, and that’s been his best way to defend takedowns, to draw them onto single-legs.
Dvalishvili throws a body kick to get things going but we’re in a feeling out process through 1 minute. Both men feinting and moving, forward and backwards. Now Dvalishvili has Aldo backing up to the fence and he blasts a double leg but Aldo using the fence to prevent it. And he cannot. Aldo breaks and we’re back to range.
Dvalishvili throwing some leg kicks but Aldo is checking them and lands a powerful one of his own. Aldo very defensive to start and lands another kick. Dvalishvili very active but not actually, just throwing light punches into the air. No intent. He doesn’t want to get countered.
Kick from Aldo. He needs more volume. Dvalishvili barges in and gets a body lock against the fence, now a single, but this is Aldo’s bread and butter. Dvalishvili controlling, Aldo landing some shots. Dvalishvili tries to break with a hook but eats a shot and stumbles backwards.
Now it’s Aldo on the front foot and he lands a big body shot. Then a knee to the body as Dvalishvili charges in. Dvalishvili getting a little reckless sometimes now. Right hand from Aldo. Missed spin from Dvalishvili. He’s backing Aldo up but not landing anything. Aldo lands a big right hand and then charges with a jumping knee just before the horn! Merab comes back but misses and stares Aldo down.
MMA Fighting scores the round 10-9 Aldo.
Dvalishvili’s corner told him to up his striking in between rounds.
Dvalishvili opens with a leg kick. He’s taking the center and powers on a single leg but Aldo is so good! He backs to the fence and Dvalishvili is now holding this leg and trying to work. Some knees here but Aldo isn’t close to going down and he’s landing some short shots of his own. Wall and stall baby.
Both men doing the same here. Aldo can’t get off the fence. He finally disengages and now Aldo is coming forward. Aldo lands a combo that gets Dvalishvili backing up.
Dvalishvili drives on a single-leg but he’s getting nowhere near. Aldo is too good at defending these. Dvalishvili back up to the cage though and he’s going to live in this world I guess. The fans are chanting for Aldo and booing the hell out of Dvalishvili. He lands a good shoulder strike but Aldo breaks the clinch. Dvalishvili spans another single-leg though. Not close to getting the takedown, but he’s back to the fence.
Aldo breaks again and Dvalishvili spams another shot. Aldo sprawls. Back in space he lands a shot to the body. And a jab. And a low kick. Dvalishvili backing Aldo up again though. Aldo swings a big right hand that Dvalishvili gets another clinch. Aldo breaks and hits him. Then hits him again. Dvalishvili back on another clinch to end the round.
MMA Fighting scores the round 10-9 Aldo, 20-18 overall.
I suspect the judges gave that round to Dvalishvili but I have zero intention of rewarding clear stall tactics. Aldo did land some okay shots at range. Let’s see if something happens here.
They hug to start the third and Dvalishvili immediately goes for another single leg but fails. Aldo breaks early. Dvalishvili lands a good right hand. He charges in and Aldo may be tiring. He’s moving away, not countering anymore. Dvalishvili in his grill and swings bit punches then gets a clinch. Aldo lands a good knee to the body though and breaks.
Dvalishvili pushing the pace and Aldo is back to the fence all the time now. Another good knee from Aldo. Dvalishvili not landing much, but he’s keeping the pressure up. Aldo lands a left hook. Dvalishvili tries a clinch but Aldo breaks. Another and Dvalishvili breaks and lands a right hand.
Combo from Dvalishvili advancing. It’s ugly but Dvalishvili is now at least being effective. Big right from Dvalishvili barely misses. Aldo in full retreat. And he’s opening up with the hands. Nothing landing huge, but Aldo has slowed his own offense to a crawl. Still great defense, to be fair, but that doesn’t score points.
Aldo lands a jab and a right to the body. Left hook lands and Dvalishvili gets a body lock but Aldo cannot be taken down. He breaks and Dvalishvili goes in again. Dvalishvili holding this clinch though.
Dvalishvili tries to muscle down a body lock but Aldo working the whizzer too well. He continues and gets a pass by to the back now. Aldo up against the fence and Dvalishvili landing knees to the thigh. He’s going to hold this for as long as he can.
And as long as he can appears to be for the remainder of the round. He fires knees to the thigh until the last second when Aldo breaks.
MMA Fighting scores the round 10-9 Dvalishvili, 29-28 Aldo overall.