When Sean O’Malley beat Aljamain Sterling to win the bantamweight title on Saturday night, No.2 contender Merab Dvalishvili was left perturbed by the fact his name wasn’t mentioned in ‘Suga’s’ post-fight call-outs, but he has a good idea why that might be the case.
“That’s the thing: They know I’m a hard matchup for Sean, and that’s why they try to not mention my name,” Dvalishvili told MMA Fighting. “No one mentioned my name. I’m like, ‘Bro, I’m here. I’m the No. 1 contender after Aljo.’
“They mentioned everyone! They mentioned Petr Yan, they mentioned Chito Vera, they mentioned everybody. It’s crazy.”
“We all agree that Chito Vera doesn’t deserve the title fight,” Dvalishvili continued. “After Aljo, I’m the No. 1 contender, and O’Malley should call me out. We should fight. I have a nine-fight win streak. O’Malley, you are the champion, you are the king now, and you should want to fight the best of the best. After Aljo, I’m the best here. You should fight me. Even if I’m injured, I can fight you with one hand if you want to fight next month. I’m ready. I’m the guy who he should call out.
“Everybody else, Henry [Cejudo], good fighter, but he just lost. Chito Vera got dominated before [by Cory Sandhagen]. Cory Sandhagen, he got his chance for a title, he lost a couple of times, and now he’s injured. He’s a good fighter, but he’s injured, so he cannot fight soon. I’m good. I had a little injury before, but now I’m healthy and I’ll be ready for a fight next month.”
O’Malley does have unfinished business with the No.6 ranked Vera as he’s the only fighter to have beaten him so far back in 2020, but having been beaten earlier in the year by Cory Sandhagen, Dvalishvili doesn’t see how he deserves to fight for the belt next.
“How are you going to fight Chito Vera after this performance?” Dvalishvili said. “He’s a good fighter, but come on. He got dominated and lost against Sandhagen, and Sandhagen wasn’t even grappling. Imagine what I can do to him, or what Aljo can do to him, or what Henry Cejudo can do to Chito Vera. I’m sure they see danger. They’re trying to avoid me.
“They don’t want to fight me because I’m a hard matchup, but at the same time, maybe stylistically it’s good. I’m not a great striker, and especially my right hand, it’s going to take years for my right hand to get to where it was before, but I’m not going to wait. I’m still going to fight, and there is a chance he can knock me out, too. If you are a champion, you have to take a risk. We are fighters. I always take a risk.”
“I’ll be ready [for December]. Even if I have to fight with one hand, I’ll fight with one hand. I’m a warrior. I was injured before the Petr Yan fight, I still fought. I still won. I’m a warrior, and I’ll fight anybody, but now if Aljo is not coming back soon, and they’re not making the rematch any time soon, I’m the guy to fight Sean. He should know my name. My name is Merab Dvalishvili. M-E-R-A-B.”