Sherdog’s Official Mixed Martial Arts Rankings
John Brannigan/Sherdog.com illustration
Merab Dvalishvili is exactly who we thought he was.
The Serra-Longo Fight Team member proved that his relentless style translates well to a 25-minute fight, as he wore down Petr Yan to earn a unanimous decision triumph at UFC Fight Night 221 on Saturday. Not only did “The Machine” set a promotion record with a whopping 49 takedowns attempted, but he also outlanded the former bantamweight champion on the feet. This is where we give ourselves a pat on the back, because Dvalishvili was already ranked No. 2 in Sherdog’s bantamweight poll prior to his victory over Yan. Now things will get interesting for the Georgian, who has vowed not to fight for the 135-pound belt as long as teammate Aljamain Sterling is champion.
Meanwhile, Usman Nurmagomedov kicked off the Bellator lightweight grand prix with a star-making performance, as he submitted former UFC and WEC champ Benson Henderson in the opening round of their main event clash in San Jose, Calif., on Friday night. The American Kickboxing Academy standout is undefeated in 17 professional outings and makes his debut in the lightweight rankings at No. 15. A run through the rest of Bellator’s lightweight bracket could have him in the Top 10 by year’s end.
Elsewhere, Linton Vassell won his fifth straight at heavyweight, avenging a previous loss to Valentin Moldavsky with a first-round knockout victory at Bellator 292. A title shot against Ryan Bader could be next for “The Swarm,” who enters the big man rankings at 15th.
Note: Previous rankings listed in brackets.
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