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18 Jan, 2023 18:33

Russian UFC star set to face Georgian rival

Former champion Petr Yan has been defeated in his past two UFC bouts
Russian UFC star set to face Georgian rival

Former UFC bantamweight champion Petr Yan will look to re-establish his title credentials at 135lbs when he faces Georgia’s Merab Dvalishvili in a five-round fight which will headline the organization’s Las Vegas card on March 11.

Yan, previously a titleholder in Russia’s ACB promotion (now known as ACA), made significant waves upon entering the UFC in 2018, winning seven straight fights – the last of which was a TKO victory over mixed martial arts legend Jose Aldo to claim the then-vacant bantamweight crown.

His first title defense, though, did not go to plan when he was disqualified in the fourth round of a fight with Aljamain Sterling when the American fighter was unable to continue after Yan landed an illegal knee strike to Sterling’s head.

Yan rebounded with a victory against the technically outstanding Cory Sandhagen, only to lose a close decision to Sterling in their rematch in April of last year.

Yan’s most recent outing in the octagon saw him drop another razor-thin judges’ decision to the up-and-coming Sean O’Malley, despite many analysts suggesting that Yan was the rightful victor.

If Yan is to rebound back towards the summit of the UFC bantamweight division, his path has been set through Dvalishvili – the Georgian powerhouse who is in the midst of an eight-fight win streak in the cage.

The Tblisi native, who also recently defeated Octagon icon Jose Aldo, has soared up the rankings ladder in recent months owing to a series of dominant performances to stand him on the verge of title contention.

However, Dvalishvili has said that he won’t chase the championship belt while it is around the waist of Sterling, a close friend and training partner of his.

But should Yan overcome Dvalishvili, it may provide the impetus for a third fight with the champion – this time with a measure of revenge potentially on the line.