UFC president Dana White believes bantamweight contender Merab Dvalishvili is making a serious career decision.
Duvalishvili won a commanding unanimous decision over former champion Petr Yan after scoring a record number of takedown attempts in the main event of UFC Fight Night 221 at The Theater at the Virgin Hotel in Las Vegas. In a fight that was ranked No. 2 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie Bantamweight Rankings, Dvalishvili had only one person in front of him, and that was his best friend and main sparring partner, Aljamine Sterling. .
Given his commanding display and divisional ranking, the next stop for most boxers is a title shot. But for Duvalishvili there is a dilemma, since he and his friend Sterling have made a pact not to fight each other.
White, who has seen the scene several times in the past, says Dualishvili should reconsider the arrangement.
“I don’t remember who I was talking to about this the other day, and I said, ‘Yeah, we don’t have to deal with that crap anymore,'” White told reporters. a press conference Saturday. “You know, in the early days, the camps were so small that you didn’t have a lot of options. So a lot of people were like, ‘Oh, he’s my friend, he’s my friend.’
“You can still be friends and love what your friend has, you know what I mean? Merab going that way would be a very bad idea.
As White mentioned, there are many instances where friends go on a collision course but refuse to fight each other for the promotion’s championship.
Since Anderson Silva refused to fight Lyoto Machida, Daniel Cormier says he would rather change divisions than fight Cain Velasquez due to the number of fans or the promotion wanting to see them fight each other.
Sterling has repeatedly said that he will not fight Dvalishvili in an attempt to prevent him from ruining the friendship. At UFC 288, Sterling will look to defend his title against former champion Henry Cejuto. A move to featherweight could be on the horizon for Sterling, though that’s not a set-in-stone decision.
Dvalishvili wants to be active and there are other fights he could take, but most of all, a fight with Sterling is off the table. Despite the situation, the Georgia fighter views two best friends at the top of the division as “good trouble,” but White disagrees.
“Does Merab want a title shot or does Merab want the people below him to jump on him, and when he’s next in line and doesn’t get a title shot, he has to go up against these weird tough guys?” said the white. “It’s a personal decision for him. If that’s what he has to do, I can tell how that story ends, and it’s not a good ending to that story. He’s a big guy and he can figure it out for himself.” «