Normally, a win over a former champion of the calibre of Petr Yan would place a fighter on the doorstep of a world title shot — but that’s not necessarily true when it comes to Merab Dvalishvili.
The Georgian fighter increased his unbeaten run in the UFC’s bantamweight division to nine on Saturday night with a buzzsaw-like performance against Yan, besting the Russian across all five rounds with a relentless, takedown-oriented strategy. But given his status as key training partner for current 135-pound champion Aljamain Sterling, Dvalishvili has said that he will wait his turn for a title bout — but speaking to the media following Saturday night’s event in Las Vegas, Dana White said that the Georgian may be best served by re-evaluating his stance.
“We are good friends and we’re not going to fight each other,” Dvalishvili said last year. “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. But one thing is for sure: We’re never going to fight. Me and Aljo, we’re never going to fight each other.”
White, though, says that fighters must be able to see past friendships in the grander scheme of things.
“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.”
Sterling is set to defend his world title later this year against the returning Henry Cejudo. He has also been linked to a move to the featherweight division regardless of the result of the fight.
Check out Dana White’s full post-fight comments below: