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‘Careful what you wish for’

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UFC bantamweight champion Sean O’Malley has issued Merab Dvalishvili a warning – and is granting his wish.

Initially calling out featherweight champ Ilia Topuria, O’Malley (18-1 MMA, 10-1 UFC) announced that his next title defense will be against the streaking Dvalishvili (17-4 MMA, 10-2 UFC), who’s been eager to fight him.

O’Malley wants to dismiss the notion that he’s avoiding the relentless grappler and actually thinks it’s a good stylistic matchup. Dvalishvili attempted a UFC record 49 takedowns in his lopsided win over Petr Yan in March 2023.

“Merab is f*cking next. His wish is granted,” O’Malley said on his “TimboSugarShow” podcast. “A lot of people said I’m ducking him. I just really am not ducking that little dude. I like the fight for me. There’s multiple ways to win. I’m excited about the fight now finally.

“I was never ducking him. I was just never excited to fight him. Now, is it the right time? Just like the ‘Chito’ rematch. Like, the time will come to where it’s the right time to fight certain people. Merab’s next, and careful what you wish for, buddy. Careful what you wish for.”

O’Malley notched his first title defense when he avenged his loss to Marlon Vera by putting on a striking masterclass in the UFC 299 headliner earlier this month. Meanwhile, Dvalishvili is on a 10-fight winning streak, most recently rallying to outlast former two-division champ Henry Cejudo at UFC 298.

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