Merab Dvalishvili continually failed to get Jose Aldo to the mat tonight at UFC 278, but he still pressured the Brazilian star relentlessly from start to finish and was rewarded for his efforts with a win on the scorecards.
Spinning back kick to the body from Dvalishvili to start. Now an inside leg kick. Dvalishvili throws a big right hand but it’s just out of range.
Dvalishvili drives into a takedown against the cage, but Aldo’s excellent takedown defense kicks in and he stays upright, so his opponent backs off.
Leg kick from Dvalishvili is blocked. Dvalishvili goes to the leg kick again. Now Aldo throws a heavy leg kick of his own.
Spinning attack from Dvalishvili doesn’t pay off. Leg kick from Dvalishvili. Now another chopping leg kick from Aldo.
Wild punch from Dvalishvili to drive in on a single-leg attempt against the cage. Aldo defending again as Dvalishvili lands a few leg kicks to the thigh.
Dvalishvili abandons the takedown attempt and looks for strikes, but Aldo lands and knocks him backwards off-balance.
Knee to the body from Aldo. Straight right from him. Spinning body kick from Dvalishvili just grazes the target. A few leg kicks from Dvalishvili without much behind them. Now a harder kick and Aldo fires back with punches.
Aldo suddenly pressing forward with punches and a flying knee to end the round.
Leg kick for Dvalishvili. Leg kick for Aldo as Dvalishvili lands a punch. Side kick to the body from Dvalishvili. Jab for Aldo.
Single leg attempt from Dvalishvili and Aldo shows excellent balance to stay on his feet as he’s driven into the cage.
Dvalishvili with a few knees to the thigh as he presses him up against the cage. Aldo rolls his eyes. More knees to the inside of the thigh now and Aldo lands the occasional cuffing punch to his ear. More knees and Aldo mimes a yawn.
Eventually Dvalishvili backs up to striking range. A couple of hard body punches from Aldo and then a kick behind it.
Dvalishvili driving in on another single leg attempt that again stalls against the cage due to Aldo’s takedown defense.
Knees and shoulder shrugs from Dvalishvili and then backs away. However, he then quickly drives back into the single leg and again they end up in the clinch against the cage.
They go back to striking range again and this time Aldo sprawls to stuff another takedown attempt. Solid leg kick from Aldo. Light leg kick from Dvalishvili and then into a takedown attempt again. He lands a punch as he backs out of that, but then drives back in again and goes back to the knees to the thigh as the round ends.
Single leg attempt from Dvalishvili and goes to the cage with it, then Aldo pushes him away.
Right hand for Dvalishvili. He closes the distance and lands another right. Now a kick upstairs that’s blocked.
In close Aldo lands an elbow. Dvalishvili comes forward and Aldo lands a good knee to the midsection. Undeterred, Dvalishvili continues to pressure Aldo, keeping him backed up close to the cage.
Aldo lands a couple of punches. Dvalishvili tries for a takedown but then quickly backs up.
Punch to the body from Aldo. Inside leg kick from Dvalishvili. He steps in with a heavy right hand.
Dvalishvili giving Aldo no room to breathe here as he constantly stays in his face. Dvalishvili with a couple of punches and a spinning backfist attempt and Aldo’s not offering much in response.
Aldo with a left hook now. Dvalishvili with a couple of takedown attempts and ends up in that spot against the cage again. Dvalishvili tries to drag him down, but they spin without hitting the mat. He does the same again without success. On the third attempt Aldo goes down for a brief second, and then is up again. Aldo keeps his hand on the mat to prevent knees to the head.
Dvalishvili settles for landing knees to the thigh. Dvalishvili lets go and lands a right hand that’s partially blocked, and we’re headed to the scorecards.
So, not too many big moments in the fight, but Dvalishvili was constantly pressing the action and that leads him to a unanimous decision victory (29-28 x2, 30-27).
Dvalishvili is now on an eight-fight winning streak, while Aldo’s three-fight winning streak comes to an end. Aldo had previously suggested that he wanted one final title push before retiring, so it’ll be interesting to see what he does now in the wake of this loss.