In the world of mixed martial arts, teammate vs. teammate dynamics are not uncommon. However, when it comes to Aljamain Sterling and Merab Dvalishvili, the predicament they currently find themselves in has become an issue of concern for UFC president, Dana White. Both fighters are training partners under Team Serra-Longo and have been able to avoid getting serious about the prospect of fighting each other. But with Dvalishvili recording his ninth consecutive win and putting on a dominant performance against Petr Yan, White has put Dvalishvili on notice, stating that it would be a “really bad idea” if he refuses to fight Sterling.
There is still a lot to be discussed regarding this potential matchup between the two fighters. While White seems to be pushing for the fight to happen, the personal relationship between Dvalishvili and Sterling potentially complicates things. However, if Sterling wins his scheduled title defense against Henry Cejudo on May 6 at UFC 288, and then goes on to beat Sean O’Malley, the fight may become more realistic.
Regardless, White should sit on his hands for now before expressing frustration. The reality is that he has not yet made an honest attempt to sway either fighter away from their position. Until the onus falls on the UFC to actually book the matchup in good faith, none of the other noise really matters.
Merab Dvalishvili’s dominant win against Petr Yan at UFC events has put him in a predicament. He finds himself in a situation where he may have to fight his former primary training partner, Aljamain Sterling, who happens to be the current UFC bantamweight champion. Both fighters have been a part of Team Serra-Longo for several years and are considered to be the best of friends. However, with Dvalishvili recording his ninth consecutive win and putting on a dominant performance against Yan, this fight with Sterling has become more of reality.
Dana White, the president of the UFC, has said that Dvalishvili better think long and hard if he’s going to draw a line in the sand about not fighting Sterling, stating it would be a “really bad idea” that would turn out poorly for him. While White’s opinion on the matter may be valid, we need to consider the personal relationship between the fighters before pushing for this fight. From everything we’ve seen from them both on-camera and behind the scenes while at events, their relationship seems genuine.
Assuming Sterling is able to get past O’Malley, with Dvalishvili likely having to win another fight in the meantime, then this becomes more of a realistic possibility. However, that’s no less than nine months to a year away. Until then, none of this other noise really matters. White can say whatever he wants about Dvalishvili’s position, but the reality is none of the pieces have fallen into place yet. If we reach a point where Sterling vs. Dvalishvili is the only sensible title fight, then let’s see the UFC give them both a good enough offer that they’re incentivized to give it further consideration.
In conclusion, teammate vs. teammate dynamics in mixed martial arts are not uncommon, but the potential matchup between Aljamain Sterling and Merab Dvalishvili has become an issue of concern for UFC president Dana White. While the prospect of the fight is intriguing, the personal relationship between the fighters may make it more complicated than it seems. Until the UFC has made an honest attempt to book the fight in good faith, all the noise surrounding the situation seems pointless.