Merab Dvalishvili (6-2 MMA, 4-1 ROC) said his MMA career s far from complete.
The bantamweight defeated Sukhrob Aidarbekov (4-3 MMA, 2-3 ROC) by a second-round arm-bar to capture the vacant National Ring of Combat 135 lbs. title at ROC 58 inside the Tropicana Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey Friday, Feb. 24, 2017. It is the first professional title win of his career and the champion plans to defend it as soon as possible.
“Although I won this title, it does not mean I stop here,” Dvalishvili said. “I keep working and training harder to get to the next step in my career.”
Like many fighters, the 26 year-old’s dream is to make it to the UFC. Winning the ROC belt is just one part of his plan to make it inside the octagon.
Dvalishvili is riding a five-fight win streak with his last three victories occurring in the ROC. He earned his shot at the belt after he defeated Tony Gravely by unanimous decision at ROC 57 Nov. 18, 2017.
After a three-fight hiatus outside of ROC, the Tbilisi, Georgia native returned to the promotion and defeated Paul Grant by unanimous decision Sept. 23, 2016.
As far as his first contender goes, the Serra-Longo fighter said he has new motivation.
“I want to keep my title, so I keep training for any opponent that is next,” Dvalishvili said. “I am ready and willing to go.”
Aidarbekov came into the bout with back-to-back wins against Andrew Aguilar and O’Brayan Ramirez. The bout was scheduled for three-five minute rounds, but Dvalishvili told NJ MMA News on Feb, 1, 2017, he planned to pressure Aidarbekov early.
Five days after the fight, he said Aidarbekov didn’t show him anything he has not seen before.
“I was definitely ready for anything, but his way of fighting was predictable,” Dvalishvili said. “No surprises in this fight.”
Dvalishvili is ranked as the No. 5 bantamweight fighting in New Jersey according to Tapology. He is hoping to one day join some of his Serra-Longo teammates in the UFC.
The Georgian trains alongside UFC’s Aljamain Sterling, former UFC middleweight Champion Chris Weidman, Gian Villante and others. No matter if he fights for a title or a chance to be on the UFC roster, Dvalishvili competes for the same purpose.
“My training and effort given is always the same for every fight I have,” Dvalishvili said. “I give my all in every bout ,wanting to make my friends, family , my team Serra-Longo and my country Georgia proud.”