The UFC have been home to some of the greatest eastern European fighters over the year, yet it wouldn’t be exaggerating to say that Mehrab Dvalishvili has probably been the most dominant. Known for an intense eastern European fighting style which focuses on wrestling predominantly, Mehrab has made a mark on the division in recent years and should have fought for the title a long time ago. The only roadblock was the fact that he is the training partner of and great friends with Aljamain Sterling. This prompted Mehrab to avoid taking a title shot against a good friend.
A few days ago though, the striking sensation that is Sean O’Malley took the Bantamweight title from Sterling, leaving the door open for a title fight between the new Champion and Mehrab. The UFC itself is licking its lips in anticipation, as are the fans. The background of the fight sets an intriguing, emotionally charged and quite personal match up. Could Mehrab avenge his friend and former champion Sterling’s loss? If so, would Sterling come back to fight his friend and take his beloved title back? These are questions that are playing on the minds of fight fans the world over.
The only kink in this fairy tale of a story is that Mehrab himself has declined the offer. He wishes to see sterling regain the title in a rematch. This has annoyed Dana White and the UFC match making team, which has been waiting for a chance to set up a title fight which involves Mehrab. Dana White voiced his anger in a press conference, questioning Mehrab’s motives and commitment.
In his mind, Mehrab was giving up a chance that most other fighters in the UFC would kill for. While his frustration, and that of the fans is understandable, Mehrab’s loyalty to his friend and training partner is quite admirable. In his absence though, top contenders, the likes of Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera, Cory Sandhagen and Petr Yan are likely to jump at the opportunity for another title challenge. These fighters make quite a strong case for themselves as well considering their experience and credentials. So Mehrab’s absence might well give them the edge in the division.
From a tactical perspective though, Mehrab should consider the current champion the perfect fight for him. Considering Mehrab’s penchant for wrestling and O’Malley’s disinterest towards it, Mehrab could very well use his wrestling to dominate the Champion. In the process, not only would he manage to gain the title for the first time, but also manage to avenge Sterling’s loss.
From the perspective of an analyst and a fan, one must say that Mehrab has a great chance at winning the title. The only question is whether he will take the fight or let the opportunity of a life time slip away.