Merab Dvalishvili wants his shot at Sean O’Malley’s new UFC bantamweight champion.
The Georgian, who is a teammate of former champ Aljamain Sterling, called out O’Malley on Thursday morning and sounds confident that he could take his title.
“That’s the thing: They know I’m a hard matchup for Sean, and that’s why they try to not mention my name,” Dvalishvili told MMA Fighting. “No one mentioned my name. I’m like, ‘Bro, I’m here. I’m the No. 1 contender after Aljo.’
O’Malley has already started a war of words with potential challenger Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera, who holds a victory over the champ.
“They mentioned everyone! They mentioned Petr Yan, they mentioned Chito Vera, they mentioned everybody. It’s crazy.”
But Dvalishvili says that it’s he, ahead of all else, who deserves a shot at O’Malley’s belt.
“We all agree that Chito Vera doesn’t deserve the title fight,” he said. “After Aljo, I’m the No. 1 contender, and O’Malley should call me out. We should fight. I have a nine-fight win streak. O’Malley, you are the champion, you are the king now, and you should want to fight the best of the best. After Aljo, I’m the best here. You should fight me. Even if I’m injured, I can fight you with one hand if you want to fight next month. I’m ready. I’m the guy who he should call out.”
The pair also have history after Dvalishivili famously stole O’Malley’s jacket at UFC 288.
“I stole his jacket, so let’s see if I can steal his belt now,” Dvalishvili said about a potential title fight with the new champion.
O’Malley certainly isn’t shy on options, with Dvalishvili, Vera and even Sterling laying claim to a title shot. But it’s hard to argue that anyone other than Dvalishvili deserves the first crack at his belt.