Merab Dvalishvili has been adamant about his refusal to fight his teammate Aljamain Sterling, citing their close friendship as the reason for his unwillingness to do so. Daniel Cormier, who was in the same situation with Cain Velasquez nearly a decade ago, recently shared that he believes friendship isn't the only reason for 'The Machine' avoiding the bout.
Speaking on his self-titled YouTube channel, the UFC Hall of Famer stated:
"Merab is saying, 'I don't want to be fighting my friend.' I will also tell you this - part of the reason I didn't want to fight Cain Velasquez was because I knew what happened in the gym every day. So the question is, how is Merab doing with Aljo to know he doesn't really want to fight this guy?"
Cormier continued, adding:
"The friendship is obviously number one, but also, you know in training with that guy how tough it would be to get a victory over him, if possible at all. Generally, the guy that doesn't want the fight is the one that is not the champion. In this case, that's Merab Dvalishvili."
Check out Daniel Cormier's comments on Merab Dvalishvili and Aljamain Sterling below (starting at the 2:40 mark):
Cormier was able to avoid a bout with Velasquez by moving down to the light heavyweight division until his teammate retired. Sterling had initially planned to move up to the featherweight division. However, he appears intent on avenging his UFC 292 title bout loss.
Merab Dvalishvili and Aljamain Sterling remain on the same page
Merab Dvalishvili and Aljamain Sterling have stayed true to their word that they will not fight one another. UFC president Dana White recently discussed their stance, seemingly questioning 'The Machine's future with the promotion.
Check out Dana White's comments below:
Dvalishvili took to Twitter following the comments, noting that the two should be the only fighters considered for a title shot, stating:
"I don't get what the problem is . There is no question of who should fight for title now - It's Aljo or me."
'Funk Master' quote tweeted his teammate, showing full support:
"Everyone making this so complicated 🤣 Either way, I am with you brother ✊🏾"
Check out the tweets from Merab Dvalishvili and Aljamain Sterling below:
Dvalishvili later claimed that he had been calling for a bout with Sean O'Malley for over five years. It is unclear if 'The Machine' or Sterling will receive the next bantamweight title opportunity. 'Sugar' has hinted that he plans to have his first title defense at UFC 296 in December, citing Marlon 'Chito' Vera as the opponent he would like to face.