Dvalishvili (11-4 MMA, 4-2 UFC) has been calling for a fight with undefeated bantamweight prospect O’Malley (12-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) for his past several fights. It hasn’t materialized, but Saturday they compete on the same card, with Dvalishvili set to fight John Dodson (21-11 MMA, 10-6 UFC) and O’Malley scheduled to meet Marlon Vera (15-6-1 MMA, 9-5 UFC).
Although Dvalishvili isn’t thinking past the task at hand, he said it’s hard to ignore the bigger picture. If he wins and O’Malley wins, he said he sees no reason to not have them fight.
“One hundred percent (we should fight next),” Dvalishvili told reporters, including MMA Junkie, during Wednesday’s UFC 252 virtual media day. “I got to win first, but we are almost same rank, we’re close in the rank and we should fight. Why not? Sean O’Malley, he never fought a top 15 guy. I think it’s the time. I’m next. Hopefully this can happen but I must win first. He must win first. This is not an easy fight Marlon Vera. Good luck to them both.”
Dvalishvili reiterated multiple times that looking past Dodson would be a foolish move. Although “The Magician” hasn’t been close to a title shot in recent years, he’s fought for UFC gold twice before and has faced a litany of big names across the bantamweight and flyweight divisions.
Dodson is easily the most high-profile opponent Dvalishvili has met thus far, and he’s fully aware of it.
“He has much more experience than me,” Dvalishvili said. “He’s been in the UFC (for a) long time, he has the win against T.J. Dillashaw, he has wins against Pedro Munhoz and he’s an ‘Ultimate Fighter’ champion. He’s hard fight for everyone. He’s the biggest test for me.”
Dvalishvili earned the fight with Dodson by winning four consecutive matches. The bout is positioned on the pay-per-view main card of UFC 252, which takes place at UFC Apex in Las Vegas and follows prelims on ESPN and ESPN+.
It’s a big platform and a big opportunity for Dvalishvili, and his dream is to make the most of it. Dodson has never been finished in any of his career losses, and becoming the first would be a statement.
“It’s not going to be easy but I’m going to do everything for (the finish),” Dvalishvili said. “I have the cardio, I’ve been training with the best training partners like Aljamain Sterling, Al Iaquinta, Matt Frevola – so many good guys. I think I’m ready and I will do everything to win this fight.”