The replacement for O’Malley and Vera’s fight has been officially named

The UFC’s No. 1 ranked lightweight division, Merab Dvalishvili, will officially be insuring the title fight between Sean O’Malley and Marlon Vera takes place as early as this weekend.

This was announced in an interview with MMAJunkie by the Georgian fighter’s manager, Oren Hodak. For the last few years, the world’s strongest league has been assigning reserve fighters to title fights, but so far their services have not been needed.

Merab Dvalishvili, 33, is riding an impressive ten-fight win streak, having defeated former UFC champions Jose Aldo, Peter Yan and Henry Cejudo by unanimous decisions in his last three fights. Following the fight with “Triple Crown Champion”, UFC head man Dana White named Dvalishvili an official challenger for the championship belt.

The flyweight title fight between Sean O’Malley and Marlon Vera will be the main event of UFC 299, which takes place March 9 in Miami.

The American will make his first title defense since knocking out Aljamain Sterling last August to take the belt from him, while the Ecuadorian fighter will try to repeat his success from four years ago, when he handed O’Malley the only loss of his career, and he did it early.