Dvalishvili: Cejudo is a better wrestler, but MMA wrestling is different from freestyle

Merab Dvalishvili has a tall task ahead of him when he faces former flyweight champion Henry Cejudo at UFC Vegas 69. Cejudo’s wrestling skills is unmatched, as he won an Olympic gold medal for the United States in freestyle wrestling.

While Dvalishvili acknowledges Cejudo’s skills, he made it clear during interviews that he is preparing for more than just takedown defense against the accomplished grappler.

“It’s a fight he is better wrestler than me. He has Olympic gold, you know. I’m sure if you’re wrestling, he will beat me in wrestling rules. But in MMA, I think I will do very well against him.”

The Georgian combatant knows that MMA brings many more factors into play compared to pure wrestling. Although he respects Cejudo’s credentials, Dvalishvili emphasized that his focus is on implementing his own strengths to win the fight, not just on preventing takedowns.

“I’m focused on winning the fight. And I’m not focused on taking down because it’s a fight, you know. Its not a wrestling tournament. It’s not all a big game. You know, we understand that he has a gold medal. I know. But in MMA, all I wanna do is just win even if I have to just kick all day, you know.”

By mentioning he’s prepared to “kick all day,” Dvalishvili made it clear he’s not fixated on just stifling Cejudo’s wrestling. The number 3 ranked bantamweight contender has been working extensively on all areas of his game.

Of course, being ready for Cejudo’s takedown shots has been a major focus in training camp. But Dvalishvili and his team have prepared strategies to deal with any scenario. If Cejudo struggles to get the bout to the mat, Dvalishvili is prepared to pick him apart on the feet. And if Cejudo does succeed with takedowns, Dvalishvili will look to use his jiu-jitsu skills to threaten with submissions off his back.

After coming off a win over Petr Yan last time out, Dvalishvili is eager to take the next step to a title shot. But first, he’ll have to get through the tough test presented by Cejudo.

Dvalishvili made it clear he’s prepared for the full MMA arsenal coming at him on Saturday night.