Bantamweight No.1 contender Merab Dvalishvili will be out of action for the next 3-4 months after having recently undergone surgery for a hand injury.
Dvalishvili’s manager Oren Hodak stated that the 32-year-old, who is currently on a nine-fight winning streak will be required to have his hand in a splint for the next 6-8 weeks and won’t be able to punch 100% again until 10-12 weeks after his surgery.
That means Dvalishvili could potentially be available to compete again in September at the very earliest, but more likely will be looking for his next fight somewhere from October onwards, and that would appear to leave the door open for a potential title fight against the winner of Aljamain Sterling vs. Sean O’Malley, which takes place at UFC 292 on August 19th.
However, Sterling had noted recently that it’s not certain he’ll be able to take that title defense as he continues to battle with an ongoing bicep issue, and if he did eventually pull out then Dvalishvili’s injury rehab ensures he’d be unable to step in and take his place.
Henry Cejudo had stated his interest in fighting Dvalishvili next, but given this latest development it seems more likely he’ll now pursue his other option, which is to serve as the back-up fighter for Sterling vs. O’Malley.