UFC president Dana White doesn’t think Merab Dvalishvili should opt out of a bantamweight title shot because his friend and teammate Aljamain Sterling is the champion. And if “The Machine” does, it’ll “be a really bad idea,” White said during a recent press conference.
The No. 3-ranked 135-pound fighter extended his win streak to nine by putting on a career performance against ex-bantamweight champion Petr Yan this past Saturday. After sweeping the scorecards (50–45, 50–45, 50–45) with his relentless pressure, The Machine cemented himself as a top contender in the weight class. But, Dvalishvili remains adamant that even if he’s offered the opportunity, he won’t battle for the belt while Sterling rules the throne.
Both Sterling and The Machine train out of the Serra-Longo Fight Team in Long Island, New York. And the UFC president shared his strong opinion on Dvalishvili’s conviction while speaking with the media after the Las Vegas event.
“I don’t remember who the hell I was talking to the other day about this and I was like, ‘Yeah, we don’t have to deal with that bulls*** anymore,’” White said about fighters refusing to fight friends. “You know, back in the early days, the camps were so small 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 — you know what I mean? It would be a really bad idea for Merab to go down that path.”
White Said He Knows ‘How That Story Ends’ With Dvalishvili Not Pursuing Title
White was then asked if there would be a point where the promotion would force Dvalishvili into a title shot or division change should he keep knocking off contenders while Sterling remains champion.
“Yeah, so does Merab want a shot at the title or would Merab rather have people under him jump over him?” White answered. “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 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. He’s a big boy, he can figure that out on his own.”
Dvalishvili Has Defeated 2 Former UFC Champions Inside the Octagon
Well, there’s a possibility that this discussion regarding Sterling vs. The Machine becomes irrelevant as “The Funk Master” is scheduled to defend his belt against former two-division champion Henry Cejudo at UFC 288 on May 6. Although it appears No. 1 ranked Sean O’Malley is next in line to fight the winner of the New Jersey main event, Dvalishvili has made a strong case to be considered for a shot as well.
With a professional mixed martial arts record of 16-4, the 32-year-old Georgian boasts wins over the likes of Yan, former UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo, ex-bantamweight title contender Marlon Moraes and “The Ultimate Fighter” champion John Dodson.