MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the main event of UFC Las Vegas, a five-round bantamweight bout between Petr Yan and Merab Dvalishvili. The event takes place on Saturday, March 11 at The Theater at Virgin Hotels in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Petr Yan (-225)
Yan (16-4) is the former UFC bantamweight champion and is currently the No. 2 ranked contender at 135lbs. The 29-year-old Russian is 8-3 overall in the UFC, with notable wins over Cory Sandhagen, Urijah Faber, and Jose Aldo. One of the best boxers in the weight class, Yan is exceptional on the feet as he is able to outstrike his opponents in terms of both technique and power. He also has very good defensive wrestling for the most part, and he has proven time and time again that he has some of the best cardio in the division and gets stronger in the later rounds.
Merab Dvalishvili (+180)
Dvalishvili (15-4) is the No. 3 ranked contender in the UFC bantamweight division. The 31-year-old Georgian has an 8-2 record in the UFC and is coming off a career-best win over Aldo. He has some of the best wrestling in his weight class and he also has an endless gas tank to boot. His striking has been passable so far in the UFC, but it’s mostly just to set up his ground game. Dvalishvili has the wrestling skills needed to dictate where his fights take place for the most part. That being said, against Yan and his stellar takedown defense, it will be interesting to see if he can get the takedown. Dvalishvili always has a cardio advantage of his foes, but we know that Yan excels in the later rounds of five-round fights, which is another dynamic to keep in mind heading into this fight.
Fight Breakdown: This should be an excellent fight to watch between two of the best bantamweights in the world. Had he not thrown that illegal knee and lost a couple of close decisions on the judges’ scorecards, Yan could still very well be the champ right now, so don’t go about fading him just yet despite his 1-3 record in his last four fights. As for Dvalishvili, his 8-2 UFC record is excellent and he has been looking better and better in his last few fights. That being said, it’s all about style matchups, and this should be a good fight for Yan. He has a 90% takedown defense over a large sample size at this point, so even though Dvalishvili is one of the best wrestlers in his division, it will be difficult to take Yan down. On the feet, Yan is the far superior striker in terms of technique and power. Dvalishvili of course has a chance to win this fight just given how dominant his grappling has been in the UFC so far, but all signs are pointing to Yan winning this one. He should have the takedown defense needed to keep this fight standing and be able to win the decision on points.
Prediction: Petr Yan via decision