Merab Dvalisvili endless energy was a sight to behold tonight at UFC Fight Night 221 as he outworked former champion Petr Yan from start to finish to earn a unanimous decision victory.
The bantamweight main event is underway in Las Vegas.
Dvalishvili immediately in on a single leg and gets it, but Yan stands up quickly, albeit while eating a few punches.
Dvalishvili goes in for another single-leg, but Yan shakes that one off.
Nice low kick for Yan. Dvalishvili lands a punch. Overhand attempt from Dvalishvili and a leg kick. Low kick for Yan. High kick attempt from Dvalishvili.
Dvalishvili with some looping punches and attempts to go into a takedown, but nothing doing. Calf kick from Yan. Now targeting the midsection. Dvalishvili tries to grab a single-leg again and Yan gets his foot free.
Dvalishvili not giving up though as he grabs hold of the leg again soon after, but Yan shows his incredible balance to stay upright.
Leg kick for Yan. Dvalishvili landing a couple of punches. Another hard low kick from Yan. Low kick for Dvalishvili now and that was a good one.
Dvalishvili clinching up now and dragging Yan’s head down. Yan lands a strike nicely as he backs away.
Jab for Dvalishvili. Now a body kick. Yan into a takedown of his own, but Dvalishvili does well to transition on top immediately. Yan standing back up as Dvalishvili threatens with a potential guillotine choke. Final 10 seconds and Dvalishvili holds onto that as Yan lands light punches to his leg.
Low kick for Dvalishvili. Body punch from Yan. Single leg for Dvalishvili and almost gets it, but Yan scrambles back to his feet.
Low kick for Dvalishvili. Yan attempting a takedown, but Dvalishvili fends it off quickly. Grazing right hook from Dvalishvili.
Solid calf kick for Dvalishvili. Yan punches to the chest. Low kicks from Dvalishvili and the final one seems to trouble Yan after attempting to check it.
Dvalishvili with a series of elbows now. Body kick from Yan. Dvalishvili lands a takedown solidly this time. Yan still finding a way back to his feet though.
Left hand for Dvalishvili as he keeps up this torrid pace. Hard body punch from Yan. Single-leg for Dvalishvili but Yan gets his leg free. Body kick and a punch from Dvalishvili. Dvalishvili goes for another body kick, but Yan is able to catch that and work a takedown off it.
Now it’s Dvalishvili’s turn to show off his get-up ability and then the two jockey for position against the cage before breaking free.
Hard body punch from Yan and a body kick from Dvalishvili. Dvalishvili drives into the takedown close to the cage and lands it. Yan standing back up, but Dvalishvili is landing knees to the leg and a foot stomp.
They break apart. Inside leg kick for Yan. Dvalishvili attempts a throw but falls to the mat and Yan ends up on top, but with only a couple of seconds left in the round.
Missed front kick upstairs from Dvalishvili. Leg kick from Yan as Dvalishvili was looking for a kick too. Leg kicks from Yan.
Missed head kick from Dvalishvili. Failed takedown attempt from Dvalishvili. Cuffing right hand from Dvalishvili as he corals Yan over to the cage. Yan with a big elbow that misses but backs Dvalishvili off enough to get away.
Dvalishvili trying to get the body lock to work a takedown, but Yan fights him off.
Missed punch from Yan enables Dvalishvili to move around to his back and he tries for a takedown against the cage. Yan battling to stay up and turns into Dvalishvili and begins working for his own takedown attempt. It doesn’t work though and he backs off to striking range.
Single-leg attempt from Dvalishvili comes to nothing, but he just backs up and then drives in for another attempt. Great balance from Yan to stay up, but he’s just getting no space to operate here.
Dvalishvili lands a takedown, but Yan pops right back up. Back to striking range they go. Single-leg brings Yan down, but only for a split-second.
Back on the feet Dvalishvili gets around to the back. Yan grabs a leg though and tries to go for a takedown, but they roll and pop right back up.
Jab lands for Yan as Dvalishvili throws a kick. Takedown attempt stuffed. Remarkable pace kept by Dvalishvili in these first 15 minutes, and now he’ll go into the fourth round for the first time.
One-two for Dvalishvili. Body kicks exchanged. Straight left for Yan. Straight right for Dvalishvili. Solid body punch from Dvalishvili.
Grazing left hand from Yan, but Dvalishvili then moves in and clinches up, then lands a takedown against the cage. Yan scrambles up and reverses Dvalishvili into the cage.
They move back to striking range. Right hand for Dvalishvili. calf kick for Yan. Body kick from Dvalishvili. Leg kick for Dvalishvili.
Body kick from Dvalishvili as he continues to outwork Yan. Yan fends off a takedown. Body kick for him. Left hook. Grazing hook from Yan.
Low kick for Dvalishvili. Yan lands his own. Dvalishvili drives into the clinch working for a takedown, but Yan defends it and tries to bring Dvalishvili down. They drop to the mat momentarily and Yan practically landed on his head, then they get back up in the final seconds of the round.
Yan needs a finish here, but despite the pace he’s pushed Dvalishvili is still living up to his ‘Machine’ nickname.
calf kick for Dvalishvili. Yan trying for a takedown, but Dvalishvili stuffs it and for a moment thought about a guillotine.
They separate. Front kick to the body for Dvalishvili. Dvalishvili tries for the takedown, but Yan escapes. Dvalishvili in on another attempt. Yan still showing strong takedown defense throughout this fight. He gets takedown down again, but is straight back up. Dvalishvili is relentless though as he stays clinched up and sweeps his leg out to bring him down again.
Yan back up and they go to striking range. Punch for Dvalishvili and leg kick for Yan. Dvalishvili works a takedown attempt against the cage and lands it. Yan stands and gets free.
Leg kick for Yan. Body kick for Dvalishvili. Glancing right hand from Dvalishvili. He lands the jab and a calf kick.
Jab for Yan. Solid body kick for Yan. Single-leg attempt from Dvalishvili and Yan drops off-balance to the mat. He gets back up, but it takes him a little longer this time.
Missed punch from Yan enables Dvalishvili to land another brief takedown. Right hand for Dvalishvili. Low kick. Jab and a front kick to the body. He clinches against the cage, but only briefly.
Nice straight punch from Yan. Dvalishvili clinches up again. Final 10 seconds. Dvalishvili throwing punches and Yan lands a couple of his own, then more comes back in response.
What a brilliant performance from Dvalishvili who pushed a remarkable pace from the opening bell and didn’t slow down until the final bell, including going for no less than 49 takedown attempts – a new UFC record. Credit to Yan for actually fending off many of those attempts and continually getting back to his feet in a way few others could, but he was still being dominated and couldn’t find an answer to Dvalishvili’s unrelenting pressure, leading to a clean-sweep unanimous decision victory (50-45 x3).