In the featured prelim at UFC 266, we saw a big time matchup in the bantamweight division, Former title challenger and top contender Marlon Moraes (23-8-1) was trying to get track as he took on the surging Merab Dvalishvili (13-4).
The Georgian wrestler entered the preliminary main event looking for his seventh straight win in the sport’s deepest division.
Instead, he repeatedly caught clean left hooks to the chin from a savage Marlon Moraes midway through Round 1.
Referee Keith Peterson would’ve been justified had he called a halt to the bout given how often Dvalishvili was rocked and dropped in such a short period of time. But Dvalishvili, known more for his wrestling and unmatched gas tank, refused to go away easy.
In nothing short of a stunning turnaround, “The Machine” weathered the storm and managed to quickly take Moraes down before pounding him out to close the round. Moraes actually appeared to go out before the horn, but Peterson allowed him to continue. All that did was give Dvalishvili more time to devour him.
A one-sided second round was next until the fight was finally stopped at 4:25 of Round 2 as Moraes fell to a third-straight loss and Dvalishvili let it be known it will take a lot to defeat him. Nostalgic fans can feel free to put Round 1 up against similar stanzas seen in Nick Diaz-Paul Daley and Andrei Arlovski-Travis Browne.
Just a couple of years ago, Marlon Moraes was looked at as potentially the best bantamweight in the UFC. After submitting Raphael Assuncao in the first round at a Fight Night in 2019, Moraes got a title shot against Henry Cejudo.
While his career has gone down, Merab Dvalishvili’s career has surged. After losing his first two fights in the UFC, Dvalishvili has really taken off. The bantamweight from Georgia has won six fights in a row including wins over Casey Kenney, John Dodson, and Cody Stamann.
UFC 266 Recap
The UFC 266 featured prelim kicked off with a touch of the gloves and a yell from Dvalishvili. Moraes started in the center with Dvalishvili bouncing on the outside. Dvalishvili lands a low kick to start his striking.
Moraes answers with a massive low kick that spins Dvalishvili. Another brutal kick from Moraes and that draws Dvalishvili to fire back. The two exchange big shots in the pocket and Dvalishvili lands a takedown.
Moraes defends well and gets back to his feet. Nice 1-2 from Dvalishvili. Huge right hand from Dvalishvili but Moraes seems very composed. Powerful left hook from Moraes stiffens up Dvalishvili briefly but he shakes it off.
Another brutal left hook and Dvalishvili looks out on his feet. Moraes is pouring it on here and Dvalishvili is wobbling all over the octagon. This fight looks very close to being stopped but Dvalishvili is somehow surviving.
Somehow Dvalishvili is going to survive and now you have to question the cardio of Moraes. Dvalishvili pushes Moraes against the fence and lands a takedown. Now it’s Dvalishvili who’s starting to work his ground and pound.
Big shots from Dvalishvili from the guard. Now it’s Dvalishvili who’s nearing a finish. My goodness what a round and I have now idea who should get it. Somehow, Dvalishvili might be up 1-0 at UFC 266.
Merab Dvalishvili delivered a comeback
Entering the second at UFC 266 and all the momentum is with Dvalishvili. Moraes looks a little wobbly to start the second round and he doesn’t look confident at all. Huge right hand from Dvalishvili sits Moraes down.
Dvalishvili settles in the guard and he’s hurting Moraes badly on the ground. Big shots to the body and then he’s coming up top. It’s all Dvalishvili here in the second round. Brutal elbows from the guard from Dvalishvili and Moraes looks broken here.
More elbow from Dvalishvili and this fight looks like it’s going to get stopped. After Dvalishvili takes a little bit of a break, he goes right back to work with brutal elbows. Moraes is just laying there on the guard not doing much to defend.
Hammer fists from Dvalishvili and Moraes explodes to try and get back up. Moraes gets up and presses Dvalishvili up to the fence. However, Dvalishvili reverses and takes Moraes back to the ground.
Big shots from Dvalishvili and Moraes gets warned by the referee to defend himself. Moraes moves but is still taking more shots and this one is over. Merab Dvalishvili has finished Marlon Moraes at UFC 266.
Merab Dvalishvili def. Marlon Moraes by TKO – Round 2