Daniel Cormier: Merab Dvalishvili’s refusal to fight Aljamain Sterling might be about more than friendship

Based on his own experience, Daniel Cormier said Merab Dvalishvili may have another reason to avoid a fight with teammate Aljamain Sterling.

No. 1 contender Dvalishvili (16-4 MMA, 9-2 UFC) made it clear that he won’t fight his good friend and teammate Sterling (23-4 MMA, 15-4 UFC) – even if it means he won’t get a title shot. His mentality drew criticism from UFC president Dana White.

Having competed in the same weight class as his teammate Cain Velasquez before, Cormier understands Dvalishvili’s loyalty. Cormier dropped down to light heavyweight to avoid facing Velasquez, but thinks there’s likely more to Dvalishvili not wanting to fight Sterling.

“Merab is saying, ‘I don’t want to be fighting my friend,'” Cormier said on his YouTube channel. “I will also tell you this: Part of the reason I didn’t want o 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?

“The friendship is obviously No. 1. 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 guy that is not the champion. In this case, that’s Merab Dvalishvili.”

Even though Sterling lost his bantamweight belt to Sean O’Malley at UFC 292, Dvalishvili says he’s only going to call for a title shot if the promotion opts against an O’Malley vs. Sterling rematch – and Sterling is also on the same page as Dvalishvili.

Every UFC win since my 1st in 2018 I called out @SugaSeanMMA @ufc and Sean ignored my call outs.I say I don’t want to fight my teammate and brother @funkmasterMMA and the media goes crazy! If there is no immediate rematch I am Number 1 for this Title match.There should be NO question.”

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie