LAS VEGAS – Simply put, Merab Dvalishivili is not a fan of Petr Yan.
Dvalishvili (15-4 MMA, 8-2 UFC) pulled no punches on the microphone at a UFC Fight Night 221 pre-fight news conference Wednesday when he called Yan (16-4 MMA, 8-3 UFC) a litany of insults and expletives ahead of their main event bout Saturday. The rivalry is rooted in multiple origins, according to Dvalishvili.
“I have many reasons,” Dvalishvili told MMA Junkie and other reporters. “First, this fight is not only a fight. It’s personal to me. He’s from Russia, I’m from Georgia. We all know Russia what they’re doing to Ukraine now, what they did to Georgia. Russia is not a (politically) democratic country. I know I want to win for my people. I have so much support from my country and so much support from Ukraine, too.
“Petr is a great fighter. He is a former champion. We all know he’s tough. As a fighter, he’s a great fighter. He’s dangerous. He doesn’t have holes anywhere. He’s a good striker. He is a good striker. He defends wrestling good. His cardio is good. This is my toughest fight. And I have other reasons. I think he’s a great fighter, a good family guy, but he’s not a humble guy. He’s not a great human. It doesn’t matter how good of a fighter you are, you have to be a good person.”
Additionally, Dvalishvili detailed umbrage for Yan’s illegal knee against his training partner, and now UFC bantamweight champion, Aljamain Sterling. Dvalishvili also said Yan didn’t make good on a bet stemming from a rematch against Sterling.
“His friend Anatoly Malykhin, he’s a One FC double champion,” Dvalishvili said. “He’s Petr’s big friend. And he said, ‘Petr’s going to win this fight and let’s bet $50,000 on Aljo winning.’ We made a bet and all of his country and all of our country knew about it. It was a big deal. Of course, Aljo won and beat Petr. This guy asked me to give him my account number to deposit money. He never sent me money after he said he would fight in One FC and One FC would send me money directly. They never sent me.”
When given the opportunity to do so, Dvalishvili said he confronted Yan about the money – but without the attitude that would lead to a fight.
“What kind of man he is?” Dvalishvili said. “He’s not a good man and he’s not a man. I hope Anatoly is a man of his word and he’s going to do the right thing and he’s going to pay me. If not, I’m going to Thailand and I’m going to find him.”
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Among the remaining grievances Dvalishvili rattled off was an alleged threat made by Yan that if he ever saw Dvalishvili’s team at an event, he’d inflict harm. Add an alleged makeshift “press conference” withdrawal by Yan for the upcoming fight, and Dvalishvili said he’s even more fed up.
“You have to treat people well,” Dvalishvili said. “I don’t care if you’re a good fighter or not. I just want to be a good man for people and to give an example to other people. He’s a cheater. He was champion and he didn’t know the rule. He was disrespectful to my friend. He didn’t use his platform when he was champion. He wasn’t doing great things. He wasn’t doing any charity or doing any humble things. I don’t think he’s a good guy. Maybe he’s good for his family, but other than that, what is he doing?”
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As for Yan, he shrugged off Dvalishvili’s accusations and tacked them up as an attempt to gain clout.
“I think he doesn’t have any other way to bring attention to himself,” Yan told MMA Junkie and other reporters through an interpreter earlier at the media day. “He cannot do it with his fights. In his fights, all he does is, like a dog, take the leg and push his opponents up to the cage. So he’s just trying to get a little attention or something. No one is interested in him.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 221.