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UFC Vegas 71 Recap and Takeaways



Picture Credit: MMAFighting

The bantamweight battle between Petr Yan and Merab Dvalishvili ended with Dvalshvili’s hand raised, and with it, his biggest win in his career. Early on, Yan opted for a striking approach, while Dvalishvili relentlessly pursued takedowns. Throughout the fight, Dvalishvili kept increasing the intensity of his attacks, landing power punches that stunned Yan. With 49 takedown attempts, he broke the bantamweight division’s record and won the fight with a score of 50-45 on all three judges’ scorecards.

Dvalishvili did not let Yan breathe for a second and kept pushing him with single-leg takedowns and striking exchanges. He attacked Yan with a variety of punches and kicks, with one of the kicks visibly hurting him in the second round. In the fourth round, Dvalishvili landed punches that swelled Yan’s right eye. Yan has now lost four of his last five fights, following his impressive start of 15-1.

In the co-main event between the No. 8 ranked Alexander Volkov and No. 14 ranked Alexandr Romanov, Volkov got the victory by scoring his 24th KO. Romanov tried to take Volkov down early in the fight but ended up receiving a damaging right hand from Volkov, leading the referee to call off the match due to the unanswered ground and pound.

After the dust settled in UFC Vegas 71, here are the three takeaways from the night:

1. The Rise of Merab Dvalishvili– Merab dominated Petr Yan. Before this fight, he had made it personal by critiquing Yan’s Russian ethnicity in a time where tensions in the world are high due to the Russian- Ukrainian war. Merab’s showing was impressive, a complete domination of a former champion. On his end, Merab does not seem to want to fight his friend and training partner Aljamain Sterling for the champion’s belt. After the fight Merab stated” “Aljo was telling me now, ‘Call the belt.’ Hey man, he’s my brother and he’s a real champion. Only me and him knows who’s real champion… But whenever he decides [to] go up in weight class… then after, I will fight [for the] title. Of course, I want to be champion and now I prove again… and I’m hungry,” said Merab Dvalishvili.”

2. Petr Yan’s Uncertain Future– It is incredible to think that Yan was champion in 2021, dominating his fight against now champion Aljamain Sterling. Yet ever since that illegal quick that DQ’d that fight and gave Sterling the championship, Yan has gone on not only to lose a second time to Sterling but lose four of his last five fights. We have seen fighters look incredible and at their peaks and in a span of months fall off a cliff professionally; case in point Tony Ferguson. Yan and his team will need to go back to the drawing board with the knowledge that a shot at the championship might be unattainable for the foreseeable future and that his best days are behind him. If this is the case, then what’s next for Yan?

3. Dana White’s Warning- UFC owner and promoter Dana White did not like to hear that Merab Dvalishvili was unwilling to fight his best friend and bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling. “You know, back in the early days, the camps were so small, you didn’t have a lot of different options. So, we had a lot of these guys saying, ‘Oh, he’s my friend, he’s, my friend.’ You can still be friends and want what your friend has, you know what I mean? It would be a really bad idea for Merab to go down that path. Does Merab want a shot at the title, or would Merab rather have people under him jump over him and him have to take on all these different tough guys? That’s a personal decision that he needs to make if that’s what he wants to do. I can tell you how that story ends. It’s not a good ending to that story, but he’s a big boy. He can figure that out on his own.”

4. Volkov Wants Gane– After his knockout victory over Romanov, Volkov has his eyes set on Ciryl Gane. Volkov had previously lost to Gane but is now feeling confident that he can get the better of him in his rematch bout. If the fight happens and he defeats Gane, then Volkov would become a top contender to fight the winner of Jon Jones vs. Stipe Miocic.

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