UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling could move up to featherweight so his teammate can have a shot at making history.
The division champion and winner of his previous seven straight fights, Sterling currently sits No. 1 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie bantamweight rankings and No. 15 in the men’s pound-for-pound rankings. His friend and teammate Merab Dvalishvili is right behind him at No. 5 in the division with his eyes on a title shot in the near future.
However, Sterling has expressed in the past that he won’t fight Dvalishvili. To further reinforce this notion, when asked about the potential match on Twitter, Sterling revealed his plans for the future.
“After Merab’s next win, I’ll probably have to step up, to allow him his deserved chance, to make history for Georgia to win a world title,” Sterling wrote on Twitter. “We will find out.”
After Merab’s next victory, I will probably have to move up in rank, to give him his deserved chance, to make history in Georgia 🇬🇪 to win a world title. We will find out. https://t.co/buDwgCSObs
—Aljamain Sterling (@funkmasterMMA) May 31, 2022
Dvalishvili was born in Georgia, a country that has yet to produce a UFC champion. According to Sterling, if his teammate wins his next fight, he will retire up a division to allow Dvalishvili to etch his name in the history books.
The plan checks out Dvalishvili, who expressed admiration for Sterling in response to his social media post.
“This @funkmasterMMA man is golden!” Dvalishvili wrote about Twitter. “I learn from him everyday. I’m grateful to call him brother!
That man @funkmasterMMA it’s gold !
I learn from him every day. I am grateful to call him brother! ალჯო არის ოქრო კაცი. მისგან ბევრი რამე ვისწავლე და მას ჩემს წარმატებაში დიდი წვლილი მიუძღვის… ✊❤️ https://t.co/ny2cknoec
— Merab “The Machine” Dvalishvili (@MerabDvalishvil) June 1, 2022
Neither Sterling nor Dvalishvili currently have any fights booked. Sterling was last in action at UFC 273, where he defeated former champion Petr Yan by split decision in a rematch of their first meeting at UFC 259 that ended in disqualification. Sterling won the rematch to successfully retain the UFC bantamweight title.
Dvalishvili’s most recent outing came at UFC 266, where he defeated former title challenger Marlon Moraes via second-round TKO, successfully earning an incredible comeback victory. Like Sterling, Dvalishvili has won all of his previous seven bouts.