UFC president Dana White warns Merab Dvalishvili over decision not to fight friend Aljamain Sterling

Dvalishvili beat Petr Yan on Saturday to close in on a bantamweight title shot, but he has insisted that he will not fight champion Sterling

Alex Pattle
Combat Sports Correspondent
Monday 13 March 2023 16:27 GMT
UFC Fight Night highlights including main event Yan v Dvalishvili

UFC president Dana White has warned Merab Dvalishvili over the bantamweight’s decision not to fight friend Aljamain Sterling, who holds the title at 135lbs.

Dvalishvili secured a statement win on Saturday, dominating former champion Petr Yan in the pair’s Fight Night main event in Las Vegas. Dvalishvili, 32, won all five rounds on all three judges’ scorecards, and the Georgian is arguably next in line for a title shot.

However, Dvalishvili and champion Sterling, who train together, have said more than once that they will not fight each other. Sterling is set to defend his title against ex-champion Henry Cejudo on 6 May, and if the Jamaican-American retains the belt, he and Dvalishvili will have a serious decision to make, according to White.

“Back in the early days, the camps were so small,” the UFC president said at a news conference on Saturday (11 March). “You didn’t have a lot of different options, so we had a lot of these guys saying, ‘Oh, he’s my friend, he’s my friend.’ You can still be friends and want what your friend has.

“It would be a really bad idea for Merab to go down that path [of refusing to fight Sterling].

“Does Merab want a shot at the title, or would Merab rather have people under him jump over him? [He would] have to take on all these different top guys, when he’s not even getting the title shot when he’s next in line for it.

“That’s a personal decision that he needs to make. If that’s what he wants to do, I can tell you how that story ends: It’s not a good ending to that story. But he’s a big boy, he can figure that out on his own.”

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