- This is a top-flight match between two UFC bantamweight contenders.
- Petr Yan is the favorite at -250.
- Merab Dvalishvili is the underdog at +190.
Two of the top UFC bantamweight contenders will lock horns this weekend inside The Theater at Virgin Hotels in Las Vegas, as number two-ranked contender Petr Yan (16-4) faces the number three-ranked challenger Merab Dvalishvili (15-4) for the chance to boost their UFC odds in clinching a title shot.
Your official Yan 🆚 Dvalishvili poster has dropped 🎨
What a fight this is going to be! 🔥 pic.twitter.com/CQli7rLR9g
— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) March 2, 2023
In spite of absorbing back-to-back losses in his last two fights, Yan remains the favorite in UFC betting at -250 against Dvalishvili, who, despite eight straight victories, still bears the underdog role at +190. Two other factors that make Yan the favorable winner in this upcoming match are that he is a former champion and a former interim champion.
The outcome of this match will have a great effect on the landscape of the 135-pound division, as most of the fighters in the top five rankings are pitted against each other, with the champion Aljamain Sterling reportedly defending his title against former champion Henry Cejudo; and number four contender Marlon Vera faces number five challenger Cory Sandhagen.
Petr Yan Recent Fight Result
Petr Yan was a force in the Russian MMA scene and collected eight wins, including four finishes and one loss in his first nine bouts as a professional. Due to this impressive run, he was signed by the UFC in 2018 and made his promotional debut against Teruto Ishihara. It was a dream debut for the Russian as he TKO’ed Ishihara in the opening round.
“No mercy” extended his undefeated streak in the UFC in his next five bouts, with victories over Jin Soo Son (unanimous decision in September 2018, Douglas Silva de Andrade (second-round TKO in December 2018), John Dodson (unanimous decision in February 2019), Jimmie Rivera (unanimous decision in June 2019) and Uriah Faber (third-round knockout in December 2019).
This six-fight immaculate run under the Las Vegas-based promotion earned him the title opportunity in July 2020 when he fought Jose Aldo for the vacant bantamweight belt. The Tiger Muay Thai representative maximized the golden chance by mauling Aldo en route to a fifth-round TKO stoppage and capturing the bantamweight title.
However, Yan’s first title defense against Aljamain Sterling in March 2021 ended in an uneventful disqualification as he landed an illegal strike on Sterling in the fourth round of their title showdown. The UFC awarded the win to Sterling, making him the new bantamweight champion, and Yan lost his belt simultaneously.
Instead of waiting for Sterling to fully recover from the injury he sustained from that aforementioned illegal strike, Yan accepted an interim title fight with Cory Sandhagen in October 2021, where they displayed an explosive battle. In the end, Yan unanimously beat Sandhagen to set up the highly-anticipated rematch between him and Sterling for the undisputed title.
In April 2022, the title rematch of Yan and Sterling co-headlined UFC 273; unfortunately, the Russian fell short of regaining his title after absorbing a close split decision loss from the “Funk Master.” Six months after that, Yan was matched against rising star Sean O’Malley, and he received another close and highly-controversial split decision defeat, thus sustaining his first career back-to-back losses and fourth career setback.
Merab Dvalishvili Recent Fight Result
After successful stints in three other MMA promotions and collecting an outstanding record of seven wins and two losses, Merab Dvalishvili cracked a roster spot in the UFC in 2017. However, his first two fights under the Dana White-headed promotion resulted in back-to-back defeats – a split-decision loss to Frankie Sanchez in December 2017 and a third-round submission to Ricky Simon in April 2018.
Following these setbacks, “The Machine” went on a hot streak, beating Terrion White in September 2018, Brad Katana in May 2019, Casey Kenney in February 2020, Gustavo Lopez in June 2020, John Dodson in August 2020 and Cody Stamann in May 2021, all by way of unanimous decision and climb up the bantamweight rankings.
In September 2021, the Georgian picked up his first stoppage victory in the UFC after stopping Marlon Moraes in the second round of their matchup. That win propelled Dvalishvili to face Jose Aldo in August 2022, where he dominated the former featherweight champion to record his eighth successive win and secure the number three spot in the rankings.
Yan vs. Dvalishvili: Tale of the Tape and Fight Analysis
The tale of the tape between Yan and Dvalishvili is almost identical, with both fighters having an equal 38 inches of leg reach. Yan has a one-inch height advantage at 5-foot-7 against Dvalishvili’s 5-foot-6 frame, but Dvalishvili will enjoy a one-inch reach edge at 68 inches compared to Yan’s 67 inches.
Looking at their record, both fighters have sustained four losses in their pro career, but Yan has tallied one more win at 16 compared to Dvalishvili with 15. The former also has the better TKO/KO rate at 44% against the latter’s 21%, but decision-wise, the Georgian has the better decision percentage of 71% compared to the Russian’s 50%.
In the striking department, Yan lands more significant strikes per minute and has a better percentage at 5.31 and 53%, in contrast to Dvalishvili, who has 4.21 and 40% of his own. But, the Serra-Longo Fight Team representative has absorbed fewer strikes at only 2.31 against the Tiger Muay Thai fighter, who received 4.03 per minute.
The four major categories in grappling are split, with Dvalishvili having the better takedown average per 15 minutes and submission average per 15 minutes at 6.54 and 0.31, compared to Yan’s 1.86 and 0.17 rates. However, the takedown accuracy and takedown defense favor Yan with 56% and 90% against Dvalishvili’s 40% and 78%.
Stylistically, both fighters are explosive strikers capable of knocking their opponent out with a single hit. The pair also has tremendous forward-moving pressure and cardio, which wears their opposition. The only difference among them is that Dvalishvili has learned to mix his offense now with takedowns, evident in his last fight with Aldo.
Regardless of Dvalishvili’s signature level-change attack, Yan’s takedown defense would be enough to stop the attempts of getting the fight down the mat (where the Georgian can pour on ground-and-pound) and keep the fight on the feet, where he can pick apart ‘The Machine” with his patented lethal combinations, thus, proceeding to a decision victory.
Official Prediction: Unanimous victory for Petr Yan.
See the entire Yan vs. Dvalishvili odds and wagers here.
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