Rankings Shakeup: Is Merab Dvalishvili the real No. 1 bantamweight in the world?

Who is the best bantamweight in MMA?

The default answer may be UFC bantamweight champion Sean O’Malley, but Merab Dvalishvili is building quite a case for himself. After outclassing Henry Cejudo in shockingly one-sided fashion this past Saturday at UFC 298, the Georgian cardio machine now rides a division-best 10-fight win streak and has ascended into a tie for the longest win streak ever accomplished by a UFC bantamweight. Not only that, but Dvalishvili’s résumé looks the part, too: His last four wins have come over a one-time UFC title challenger (Marlon Moraes), a certified MMA legend (Jose Aldo), a former UFC champion (Petr Yan), and an Olympic gold medalist and former two-division UFC champ (Cejudo). Not bad.

Dvalishvili’s latest masterpiece left even UFC CEO Dana White with little choice but to anoint the 33-year-old as the new No. 1 bantamweight contender after UFC 298.

But should his impressive list of scalps already earn Dvalishvili the title of best in the world?

Survey says…

MMA Fighting

In one of the most competitive votes in recent memory, MMA Fighting’s eight-person rankings panel has Dvalishvili claiming the new No. 1 spot at 135 pounds. Just how close was this decision? Using the panel’s internal voting tally, Dvalishvili accumulated 112 points compared to the 111 points received by O’Malley. That’s right: Dvalishvili stole the No. 1 spot by ONE SINGLE POINT. And to add further fuel to the debate, our third-place finisher, Bellator/PFL champion Patchy Mix, ended up nipping right on their heels with 106 points.

The trio also split the eight first-place votes from our team bizarrely evenly, with Dvalishvili garnering two top nods, while O’Malley and Mix both collected three.

Did we get this right? Did we get this wrong? The conversation is sure to continue when O’Malley faces No. 9 Marlon Vera in a much-anticipated rematch on March 9 at UFC 299.

Check out MMA Fighting’s updated rankings for featherweight and welterweight below as well following big wins by Ilia Topuria and Ian Machado Garry at UFC 298, then vote in the poll to let us know where you stand on the three-way battle for bantamweight supremacy.

MMA Fighting
MMA Fighting


Who is the best bantamweight in the world?

  • 68%

    Merab Dvalishvili

    (54 votes)

  • 26%

    Sean O’Malley

    (21 votes)

  • 5%

    Patchy Mix

    (4 votes)

79 votes total Vote Now