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Merab Dvalishvili to serve as UFC 299 backup for Sean O’Malley vs. Marlon Vera

Should something go wrong in the final hours ahead of the UFC 299 main event, Merab Dvalishvili will be ready to step in for his long-awaited shot at gold.

The pay-per-view event taking place March 9 at Kaseya Center in Miami is headlined by a bantamweight title fight between champion Sean O'Malley and challenger Marlon Vera. Dvalishvili (17-4 MMA, 10-2 UFC) is preparing to travel to Florida and intends to make weight Friday morning to serve as the backup fighter, should his services be needed. Oren Hodak of KO Reps confirmed the news to MMA Junkie Tuesday evening.

The UFC typically has assigned a backup fighter for title fights in recent years, but as of yet, their services have not been needed.

Dvalishvili is currently on a 10-fight winning streak, which includes three consecutive wins over former UFC titleholders. In his last outing, he defeated former two-division champion Henry Cejudo in a clean unanimous decision to secure No. 1 contender status.

“Whoever will be champion, I’m going to face him next,” Dvalishvili said during his in-cage post-fight interview. “I’ve been calling Sean O’Malley since 2018. … My only goal is for the title now.”

“The Machine” will be ready to step in to fulfill his title shot hopes on short notice should something go wrong during fight week with O’Malley (17-1 MMA, 9-1 UFC) or Vera (23-8-1 MMA, 15-7 UFC). Neither fighter scheduled for the main event has missed weight during their UFC tenures.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie