Merab Dvalishvili is closing in on the top of UFC bantamweight rankings with a win over Jose Aldo, however he’s not pleased with the promotion.
Previously Merab criticized the UFC flag ban and questioned:
“Why can’t we bring our flags to the octagon? I started this sport because I wanted to represent my country internationally.”
“I made it, but I can’t bring my flag? I want to show people that I’m from a small country and make Georgians proud. Why can’t I represent my country? Nobody answered [why]. This is a very big deal for me”
“We want to represent our country. I came to the US with nothing, my coaches and team helped me become who I am. Now I represent both countries, both flags I’m proud of. I love the US and I love Georgia. At the least, can I represent my countries flag?”
But it didn’t end there.
UFC is cracking down on everything that even resembles a flag and has been warning everyone to not wear flag themed accessories or be prepared to get fined. Two of the recent stars that spoke up about this were Gilbert Burns and Sodiq Yusuff.
Burns ended up signaling for someone to throw in a bandana for him into the cage after his win at UFC Rio.
But apparently even necklaces are subject to censorship.
Merab is known for wearing a necklace that has the Georgian flag on it. He revealed that the UFC sent him an email, prohibiting him from wearing it due to their anti-flag policy. H
Merab then permanently tattooed his country’s map with its flag onto his chest. He recently showed it off in an interview and posted an image as well.
This is a similar, yet less permanent solution, to what Gilbert Burns just did at UFC 283. The welterweight veteran wore a suit with the lining having a Brazilian flag pattern on it. It looked so cool that the UFC even shared it on their social media.
Merab, who’s ranked fifth in the 135-pound division, has been winning since 2018. He’s quite close to a shot at Aljamain Sterling’s title. But before that can happen, he may have to go through Petr Yan in a bout that’s reportedly in the works.
UFC was previously displeased about the friendship between Dvalishvili and Sterling and wanted to pit them against each other. Sterling is reportedly interested in moving up after defending the title against Cejudo.
Syed Ali Fazeel is an accomplished MMA fan, and writer. He discovered MMA in his youth and has been following the sport since TUF season 1.