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Sean O’Malley Is On An Unavoidable Collision Course With Merab Dvalishvili

Sean O’Malley cannot avoid Merab Davlishvili

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Sean O’Malley cannot avoid Merab Dvalishvili

Only moments after defeating Chito Vera at UFC 299, reigning bantamweight champion Sean O’Malley wasted no time in calling out a fight against Ilia Topuria. O’Malley even mentioned he is willing to travel to Spain for a fight against the new featherweight champ.

In the aftermath of UFC 299, Merab Dvalishvili had a brief backstage interaction with O’Malley. Dvalishvili extended his hand and offered his congratulations on O’Malley’s impressive victory against Chito Vera, but O’Malley had no time for Dvalishvili.

Try as he may, O’Malley won’t be able to avoid Dvalishvili.


Both O’Malley or Topuria are new champions–with a total of one combined title defenses–and neither is in a position to call their next shot. Whether he likes it or not, Topuria will fight someone from the featherweight division, likely a rematch against former champ Alexander Volkanovski.

O’Malley is in a similar situation, and his next title defense will be Dvalishvili’s long-awaited crack at the belt.

It is understandable why O’Malley would be thrilled to avoid Dvalishvili. He was in attendance at UFC 298 when Dvalishvili thoroughly outclassed former Olympic gold medalist Henry Cejudo, getting a close look at the relentless, aggressive approach that has helped Dvalishvili win his last 10 fights.

This isn’t to say O’Malley couldn’t land a right hand and knock out Dvalishvili, nor is it an attempt to diminish his excellence. But the grappling-heavy Georgian fighter is not a favorable matchup for O’Malley.

Courtesy Zuffa LLC

Courtesy Zuffa LLC

Plus, Dvalishvili’s team is the same that surrounds Aljamain Sterling, who O’Malley defeated for the belt last summer. Sterling lost that bout once he shifted from the gameplan by striking instead of grappling. He has regretted it ever since, and Dvalishvili–with Sterling likely in his corner–is unlikely to repeat his teammate’s error.

Dvalishvili knows that he matches up extremely well against O’Malley, which is why he is so eager for a title shot. O’Malley understands it, too, which explains why he is willing to instead travel to Spain to trade strikes with the heavy-handed Topuria.

But we don’t always get what we want, even if you’re a champion. All signs point to O’Malley’s next fight being against Dvalishvili, a nightmarish matchup for the reigning champ.

Dustin Poirier reclaims his spot atop most feared lightweights

In MMA, you’re only as good as your last fight. And that puts Dustin Poirier in an outstanding position.

Poirier delivered a remarkable performance on Saturday at UFC 299, knocking out emerging lightweight star Benoît Saint Denis. With the victory, Poirier instantly regains his place as a top lightweight, even re-establishing himself in the title picture.

Courtesy Zuffa LLC

Courtesy Zuffa LLC

A best-case scenario for Poirier is having his next bout against Nate Diaz. This is a fight that many have waited a long time to see, and it is as big a name as Poirier can face with minimal danger. It will not change the entertainment level whatsoever, but Diaz is an opponent that Poirier would beat. Despite the name value, Diaz, 38, has lost three of his last five fights–and he hasn’t competed in the cage since the fall of 2022.

If Poirier has another impressive showing, this time against a fight icon like Diaz, he will put himself in line for another shot at the title.

Curtis Blaydes exposes Jailton Almeida

Curtis Blaydes put a swift end to the hype surrounding Jailton Almeida.

Courtesy Zuffa LLC

Courtesy Zuffa LLC

Almeida is a top-15 heavyweight in the UFC, but ranks somewhere in that bottom tier. That was illustrated against Blaydes, who saw that he could knock out Almeida when he repeatedly went in for a takedown–and that is exactly how it played out.

Even in the opening round, when Almeida kept taking Blaydes down, he was unable to do any significant damage. That was the same issue in his last fight, where he landed takedown after takedown on Derrick Lewis, yet could not put forth any type of offense to end the fight.

As for Blaydes, he is a solid gatekeeper for the upper echelon of the division. It appears he will get a shot at interim champ Tom Aspinall, a rematch of the bout that was awarded to Blaydes after Aspinall hurt his knee. This can serve as a course correction, as Aspinall can get his victory as Blaydes returns to his current role, where he resides just outside of the title picture.