Why UFC contender Merab Dvalishvili decided to no longer ‘chase the finish’ in fights

Merab Dvalishvili changed his fighting style early in his UFC career.

“The Machine” is on a 10-fight winning streak. He most recently outlasting former dual-champion Henry Cejudo at UFC 298. Despite Dvalishvili’s impressive run, nine of his 10 wins have come by decision.

However, Dvalishvili (17-4 MMA, 10-2 UFC) says that’s by design. After he lost by technical submission to Ricky Simon in his second octagon appearance in April 2018, Dvalishvili decided to minimize risk and focus on control. He hasn’t lost since.

“My second fight, I was (fighting a) very tough guy Ricky Simon,” Dvalishvili said on “Bradley Martyn’s Raw Talk.” “He was good everywhere, and I was trying to finish him and then I was going, and going, and punching him, and then I even dropped him, (tried to) knock him out. I tried some submission. Nothing was working, but I was winning the fight. It was one minute left and I take him down, I make the decision that I’m going to take him down and finish on top. And when I lift and when I jump, I hit my head to the floor.

“I knocked myself out, and at that time, he grabbed my neck and tried to choke me out on top. I don’t tap. I don’t sleep. I was still fighting, but referee say, ‘Oh, he was in and out (of consciousness).’ They give him technical TKO or something. After that, I make decision, like, you know what? I’m going to take people down and I’m going to have fun with it. I’m not going to chase the finish, and I’m not going to risk. After that, I became more smart fighter. Before, I used to be wild. But now, I play with my opponents.”

Dvalishvili is expected to be UFC bantamweight champion Sean O’Malley’s next title challenger, but a date is yet to be announced for their fight.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie