Aljamain Sterling won’t jeopardize friendship by fighting Merab Dvalishvili under current pay: ‘Throw it away for $500K?’
Aljamain Sterling won’t entertain the idea of fighting Merab Dvalishvili, at least under the current pay structure.
The UFC bantamweight champion has been put in a bit of an awkward situation in recent weeks, as his good friend and teammate Dvalishvili (16-4 MMA, 9-2 UFC) has been rising through the 135-pound ranks and is now considered by many the No. 1 title contender following his main event win over Petr Yan at UFC Fight Night 221 on March 11.
This situation has been seen coming, as Sterling (22-3 MMA, 14-3 UFC) has remained champion, and Dvalishvili has kept winning and climbing the bantamweight ladder. Along that trajectory, both fighters have been clear that they won’t fight each other.
UFC president Dana White recently said Merab not fighting Sterling would be a ‘really bad idea.’ Sterling understands where White is coming from as a promoter, but says he could entertain the idea if the UFC pay would be much higher.
“It’s his business, so I know that he’s going to try to make the matchups that the fans want to see, and I know the fans would love to see that,” Sterling said on “My Mom’s Basement with Robbie Fox.” “Merab is a great dude. He’ll take off his shirt for anybody. He doesn’t even have to know you, he’s just that type of guy. To have that relationship with him and to throw it away for 500K? You know what I mean?”
Photos: Aljamain Sterling through the years
Sterling values his friendship with Dvalishvili greatly, but he would at least consider the idea if both fighters would be offered life-changing money.
“We never talked about that, and for us to fight for that kind of money, it doesn’t make a ton of sense,” Sterling explained. “Now, if we were talking about NFL money, money that can, actually – these guys make $50 million for like one or two years, you know what I mean? That’s life-changing money, you see what I’m saying?
“Why would we ever cross that type of line to do something that’s not going to last us, that’s not going to set us up financially for the rest of our lives? That’s just not worth it for me. I’m going to be there every step of the way, he’s going to be there with me as well. I met his family, and he’s met my family. We live across the street from each other. We both moved here with a goal in mind. I plan on eventually going up to 145, I want to just take out the trash, and I know ‘Triple Turd’ is saying whatever he’s saying about beating us both in one night.”
For now, Sterling is focused on defending his belt against Henry Cejudo at UFC 288 on May 6. He believes his run at 135 pounds it’s near the end, thus, opening the doors to the title for Dvalishvili and putting an end to the idea of him fighting his friend and teammate.
“The perfect blueprint is take out the trash (fight Cejudo), maybe get a mega payday with O’Malley because he’s afraid to fight everybody. I don’t think he wants any part of Merab. I don’t think he wants any part of me unless it’s for the belt. I think we can kind of see the writing on the wall.”
Aljamain Sterling won't jeopardize friendship by fighting Merab Dvalishvili under current pay: 'Throw it away for $500K?'
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