Raoni Barcelos Pulled From Merab Dvalishvili Matchup at UFC on ESPN 19

By Jay Pettry Nov 19, 2020

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A hot Ultimate Fighting Championship prospect is not getting an opportunity he hoped for after all.

Coach Ray Longo first spoke about the booking between Merab Dvalishvili (12-4) and Raoni Barcelos (16-1) at bantamweight at UFC on ESPN 19. At the time, Barcelos was stepping in for Cody Stamann, who pulled out for COVID-19 related reasons. Dvalishvili posted on Twitter on Thursday that the fight was off, but he claimed it was due to rankings and the commission. MMA Junkie has since clarified that this is not the case, but rather that Barcelos is being kept out of action as he was suspended following his bout with Khalid Taha.

The Nevada State Athletic Commission typically releases suspension information for UFC events, but the Nov. 7 UFC on ESPN 17 event that Barcelos competed at was not released. At the time, Barcelos’ suspension time is currently unknown, nor is whether the Brazilian suffered an injury during his three-round battle with Taha. It is also uncertain whether the promotion will keep Dvalishvili on the event and find a replacement, or if he will be scheduled on a subsequent card.

Barcelos extended his winning streak to nine with he took home a thrilling decision win and a “Fight of the Night” bonus against Taha in November. The Brazilian has yet to taste defeat inside the Octagon, winning all five including stoppages in his first three. The finishes came over Kurt Holobaugh, Chris Gutierrez and Carlos Huachin, and since those, he has scored decision wins over Said Nurmagomedov and the aforementioned Taha.

Dvalishvili has also won his last five UFC bouts, but all five have come by unanimous verdict. Before the quintet of 15-minute nods, the Georgian lost his first two inside the Octagon. First, Frankie Saenz won a controversial split decision over him, and then Ricky Simon put him to sleep at the final bell. Simon’s technical submission guillotine choke is the latest possible stoppage in any UFC non-title fight, and it remains the lone stoppage loss for “The Machine.” Dvalishvili has racked up wins over names like John Dodson, Casey Kenney and Brad Katona since joining the roster.

UFC on ESPN 19 goes down on Dec. 5 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, with a headliner pitting Jack Hermansson against late replacement Kevin Holland at middleweight. An additional significant matchup on the card sees former light heavyweight title challenger Ovince St. Preux try to become the first man to defeat Jamahal Hill.

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