UFC President Dana White doesn’t like the idea of Merab Dvalishvili skipping a UFC Bantamweight Championship opportunity for his close friend Aljamain Sterling.
Dvalishvili is coming off a one-sided five-round affair against Petr Yan this past Saturday. As UFC color commentator Daniel Cormier mentioned, in any other fight, a performance such as the one Dvalishvili had against Yan, winning via unanimous decision, would have everyone clamoring for him to get a title opportunity. The problem is, Dvalishvili and Sterling have vowed never to fight one another.
During a media scrum in Las Vegas, Dana White advised Merab Dvalishvili to look after his own interests and goals.
Dana White on Merab choosing not to fight for the title:
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. pic.twitter.com/jsNDykzhSG
— Jed I. Goodman © (@jedigoodman) March 12, 2023
“You can still be friends and want what your friend has,” White said. “It would be a really bad idea for Merab to go down that path.”
White pointed out that Dvalishvili will have to face stiff competition against top-ranked fighters, all while not getting a well-deserved title shot. The UFC boss said this story never ends well, but Dvalishvili is a “big boy” and he will figure it out.
Back in 2021, Dvalishvili told reporters that even though he felt Sterling would have a long 135-pound title reign, he still won’t fight him (h/t MMAJunkie).
“We are good friends and we’re not going to fight each other,” Dvalishvili said. “Aljo is champion. I believe he will defend his belt and he will be a champion for a long time. I have to win a couple more fights to fight for the title, but we will figure something out (if I get there). But one thing is for sure: We’re never going to fight. Me and Aljo, we’re never going to fight each other.”
Sterling is set to put the UFC Bantamweight Championship on the line against the returning Henry Cejudo in the main event of UFC 288 in Newark, New Jersey on May 6. Sterling has expressed a desire to move up to featherweight to give Dvalishvili a chance to compete for UFC gold.