Merab Dvalishvili’s dominant victory over Petr Yan at UFC Fight Night 221 on Saturday night appeared to be the kind of performance that would put him in the title picture, but in the aftermath of the fight he remains adamant that he won’t accept a fight with current bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling, who is both his friend and teammate.
“I understand business and everything, but Aljamain Sterling is my friend and my brother,” Dvalishvili said on The MMA Hour show. “It’s all good. Aljo has a fight now. He’s fighting Henry Cejudo. I’m going to be back to the gym in about a week and I’m going to help him to prepare for Henry Cejudo. I think after that he will beat up O’Malley, and he said he’s planning to move up. If he wants to do it, I will fight [for the] title.”
Dvalishvili’s comment came after Dana White suggested that it would be “a really bad idea for Merab to go down that path,” if he chose not to fight Sterling.
“Does Merab want a shot at the title?” Dana White stated at the post-fight press conference. “Or would Merab rather have people under him jump over him, and him have to take on all these different tough guys when he’s not even getting a title shot when he’s next in line for it.
“That’s a personal decision 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.”
Nevertheless, Dvalishvili’s mind already seems to be made up.
“I’d rather wait.” Dvalishvili said. “I beat Yan, Yan beat Sandhagen already. I beat Aldo, Aldo beat ‘Chito’ Vera already. I don’t have to prove that I’m better than those guys. I’d rather wait.
“If they want me to fight Aljo, maybe they have to pay $10 billion,” Dvalishvili continued. “Then yes, I’ll be ready.”