Merab Dvalishvili can’t hide excitement to face Jose Aldo at UFC 278

Merab Dvalishvili (14-4, four finishes), who trains on Long Island with bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling, has a big clash of his own at 135 pounds against former longtime featherweight champ Jose Aldo (31-7, 18 finishes) on the UFC 278 main card on Saturday in Salt Lake City. The native of the former Soviet republic of Georgia spoke recently via Zoom with The Post’s Scott Fontana for the latest Post Fight Interview.

Q: You’ve done mandatory military service in Georgia. Georgia, of course, has a lot of history with strife coming from Russia. You’ve tweeted this month about the 14th anniversary of the Russo-Georgian War. When you watch what’s going on, especially in Ukraine right now, like what do you observe? How are you watching that?
A: It’s so heartbroken, and nobody can stop Russia. They been killing people, like normal people, the Ukrainian people. They [are] not terrorists. … Because they want to be free like Georgia. We are friends with U.S. We are friends with European countries and civilization. We don’t want to go back in Soviet Union. Georgia left the Soviet Union, and they started war right away in 1991 [in the Georgia Civil War]. When I’m born, it was so bad [a] time. They do the same thing now to Ukraine, like they did two times with Georgia. And now, they’re killing. So heartbroken. I am posting sometimes, I’m sharing my things, but you can’t stop Russia because I know there is no sanction [that] works for them. They don’t care. They just throwing bombs in Ukraine, killing kids and normal people. I don’t understand. This is so heartbroken. We all have to try to stop war.

Merab Dvalishvili
Merab Dvalishvili
Stefan Jeremiah

Q: It’s been almost a year since that wild fight and victory over Marlon Moraes. Why haven’t you been able to return sooner?
A: I wanted to come back to the octagon soon, but it was no fight for me. I was hoping [to] fight anybody, but it’s tough. Our weight class, a lot of good guys, like six former champions now, and everybody was booked. Sometimes, it’s hard to match up. But finally I get fight and it was worth the wait. And especially my brother, Aljamain Sterling, was getting ready for his title defense against Petr Yan. Before [that fight] I wasn’t [in ] rush. But after he [defended] the title, that time was really hard for me because I don’t have nothing to do. I want to just fight. I don’t have a fight. But finally, they give me [a] good fight.

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