UFC bantamweight José Aldo has explained why he accepted a fight against lower-ranked contender Merab Dvalishvili,
Tonight at UFC 278, Aldo will look to continue his late-career surge towards a second piece of gold. The former featherweight champion, who is still widely regarded as the GOAT at 145 pounds, has found form since suffering three consecutive defeats to Alexander Volkanovski, Marlon Moraes, and Petr Yan.
In his last three outings, “Junior” has outpointed Marlon Vera, who has since surged into the top five with four straight wins, veteran contender Pedro Munhoz at UFC 265, and Rob Font in a UFC Fight Night main event.
But despite rising to #3 on the bantamweight ladder, Aldo will be fighting down the rankings against #6 man Dvalishvili in Salt Lake City, Utah tonight.
According to Aldo, that’s because unlike many in the division, he doesn’t shy away from a challenge.
Aldo “Prepared” For Dvalishvili Threat
During his appearance at UFC 278 media day on Wednesday, Aldo discussed the latest rival he’s set to share the Octagon with.
Dvalishvili hasn’t made the walk since a memorable come-from-behind victory over Moraes last September at UFC 266. His layoff couldn’t be helped initially, with the Georgian suffering an injury in January and then focusing on helping teammate Aljamain Sterling ahead of UFC 273 in April.
But after Sterling’s victory, Dvalishvili was left in pursuit of his own return to the cage. With no takers, “The Machine” pleaded for a fight having been left feeling like the forgotten man at 135 pounds.
Arriving to save the day was Aldo, who seemingly didn’t need much convincing to accept a date between the steel with Dvalishvili.
“Actually, when Sean (Shelby) offered the fight, (I talked to my manager and said) ‘Yeah, I’ll take the fight. I’ll take the fight.’ I think it’s a tough fight, no one wanted to fight him, I will take it, and I will be prepared,” Aldo said. “On that given night, each of us is just fighting for something, so we need to fight for what matters.”
With a victory tonight, Aldo is expecting to mark himself as the next challenger for whoever leaves UFC 280 in October with the bantamweight gold. For Dvalishvili, meanwhile, a title charge isn’t an option with “Funkmaster” on the throne, so perhaps a flyweight drop awaits him should he find success in Utah.
Who do you think will have their hand raised at UFC 278, José Aldo or Merab Dvalishvili?