4 MMA fighters who should be champion in 2024

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Merab Dvalishvili
Merab Dvalishvili / Alex Goodlett/GettyImages
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Merab Dvalishvili (UFC)

Is there no other more frequently overlooked person in MMA than Merab Dvalishvili?

The Georgian bantamweight has come a long way from the two consecutive losses to Frankie Saenz and Ricky Simon that commenced his Octagon tenure, winning 10 straight against increasingly better competition and showing insane cardio in the process. Five of his last six opponents in that streak either held or competed for a title at some point in their careers, including former bantamweight champions Petr Yan and Henry Cejudo.

But if Sean O'Malley had his way, he would rather fight featherweight counterpart Ilia Topuria at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid, Spain. To be frank, that should not happen.

First of all, both champions have exactly one title defense between them; and even then, said title defense. And second, Dvalishvili has more than earned the right to a title shot.

Win streak aside, he has the requisite history with O'Malley: one of his teammates and closest friends is Aljamain Sterling, whom O'Malley originally knocked out to become the new bantamweight champion. He understandably wants revenge, and claiming the gold will make it only sweeter.

This summer looks like the best time for that fight to take place. Here is hoping that White does right by meritocracy (as he did during the UF 299 post-fight press conference, calling O'Malley's super fight proposal towards Topuria "crazy talk" and books it.


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