Streaking number two ranked bantamweight contender, Merab Dvalishvili has provided an update on his timeline for a return from hand surgery, claiming he will be “1,000%” ready to compete for divisional gold against the newly-minted titleholder, Sean O’Malley at UFC 296 in December.
Dvalishvili, who held the number one rank at 135lbs before UFC 292 last weekend, saw himself slip from the divisional summit after the event’s headliner – which saw his Serra-Longo MMA training partner, Aljamain Sterling drop his championship in a second round TKO loss against the above-mentioned O’Malley.
Sidelined since he headlined a ‘Fight Night’ billed event at The Theater at Virgin Hotels in Las Vegas, Nevada – Merab Dvalishvili improved his winning run to an impressive nine straight fights with a completely one-sided shutout unanimous decision win over former division champion, Petr Yan in a main event headliner.
In the time since, the Tbilisi native has been sidelined through injury, undergoing a surgical procedure to address a long-standing hand injury, however, is expected to challenge for undisputed spoils in teammate, Sterling’s absence.
Merab Dvalishvili claims he is ready to fight Sean O’Malley at UFC 296
And despite the fact Montana native, O’Malley has targeted first title defenses against either Marlon Vera or former two-weight champion, Henry Cejudo, Dvalishvili has claimed he will be “ready” to compete at UFC 296 in December.
“1,000% I will be ready,” Merab Dvalishili told TSN reporter, Aaron Bronsteter. “I will be ready, yes, man. My hand is still – the doctor just proved me I can start training, proved me that I can start slowly punching (and) grappling. But if the fight is next month, then I will be ready, because I don’t care, I’m just gonna ignore the pain. And I’m just gonna fight.”
“Definitely in December I will be ready,” Merab Dvaslishvili explained. “If this fight [with Sean O’Malley] will happen, I would love to fight him.”