‘Big’ John McCarthy explains path to victory for Petr Yan against Merab Dvalishvili

By Andrew Whitelaw - January 25, 2023

‘Big’ John McCarthy has laid out a gameplan for Petr Yan to beat Merab Dvalishvili when the pair go toe-to-toe in in March.

The fight has the potential to be an absolute banger and will serve as the main event for UFC Vegas 71 in what will be the promotion’s inaugural event at the Virgin Hotel in Sin City.

John McCarthy was the a referee in the UFC for years before moving to Bellator to be a commentator. The 6’3 Californian gave his two cents on the upcoming match-up on his Weighing In podcast and acknowledged that the Georgian fighter has the superior ground game, saying,

“Merab against Yan is just a fantastic matchup. Definite contrasting styles and it’s a matter of can Merab get Yan to the ground, use his superior grappling – cause he is the better grappler – and he’s got a pace. He brings the pressure throughout the fight,” explained McCarthy.

Yan is the former champion and is widely-considered to have some of the best hands in the UFC. The 29-year-old is experiencing the toughest spell of his career so far having suffered back-to-back losses for the first time. The Tiger Muay Thai star lost a split decision is his rematch with Aljamain Sterling at UFC 273 and endured the same result against Sean O’Malley at UFC 280. McCarthy believes his best path to victory is to return to the fundamentals that saw him take the 135 lb division by storm when he arrived in the Octagon in 2018.

“He {Petr Yan} needs to get into the touch-touch,” said McCarthy. “Just keep on making him feel this. Making him miss, fight off the takedowns. But I love this, number-two versus number-three,” added the 60-year-old.

John McCarthy, Scott Coker, Dana White, Bellator 241, Coronavirus, UFC 249

Image via @weighinginsow on Instagram

The Russian was a champion in ACB and amassed a 10-fight winning streak as he defeated Jose Aldo to win the vacant UFC bantamweight title in 2020. He infamously went on to lose the belt to Sterling via DQ before then coming up short in their rematch. Yan’s Sterling rivalry adds another dimension to the Dvalishvili fight as the pair are teammates at Serra-Longo. In many respects, the 32-year-old presents a similar puzzle to ‘Funk Master,’ and it will be fascinating to see how the former champ deal with him.

Do you agree with McCarthy’s breakdown of the fight?


John McCarthy