WATCH: Merab Dvalishvili shows cement chin, then mauls Marlon Moraes at UFC 266
The first round in this battle of top-15 bantamweights had a first-round that will be on many lists as one of the best MMA rounds in 2021. Midway through the frame, the Brazilian landed a devastating left hook that badly wobbled the 30-year-old and put him into survival mode for the next minute, as Moraes bombed away on the Georgian. Knocking him to the ground and dazing him several more times. The barrage became so hard to deal with at one point that Dvalishvili literally ran to the other side of the Octagon to get some space between him and his opponent.
Merab Dvalishvili dominates Marlon Moraes after early scare at UFC 266
Yet, despite the battering “The Machine” showed that he was exactly that, and weathered the storm and showed off an elite level chin and will. Eventually, the eleventh-ranked fighter was able to get ahold of Moraes and take him down. That’s when the fight completely shifted. On the mat, Dvalishvili unleashed a bombardment of ground and pound shots on his 33-year-old foe. With around 20 seconds left in the round, it seemed like Moraes was put to sleep by the shots, but the referee missed it and he was able to make it out of the round.
In the second round, Dvalishvili just rinsed and repeated the same strategy. Getting Moraes to the mat once again and battering him with a limitless amount of punches from above. It would become too much for the referee, and the fight would be stopped with the 35-seconds left in the second round.
The victory will go down as Dvalishvili’s biggest yet, not only for beating the highest-ranked and biggest name opponent he has faced yet, but because of the legendary toughness and will, he showed in snatching victory from defeat in the opening round.
The win is a seventh straight for the Serra-Longo Fight Team product and puts him in line for another major fight early in 2022.
Unfortunately for Moraes, the loss is a third straight, and the fourth in his last five Octagon appearances, following a four-fight winning streak. It should be interesting to see where the UFC goes next with “Magic” and if he is still in the promotion to start 2022.