Anthony Smith doesn’t believe Aljamain Sterling reciprocates the same level of respect towards teammate Merab Dvalishvili. 

Dvalishvili earned a significant victory over former champion Petr Yan this past weekend at UFC 71. He’s now the #1 ranked contender in the bantamweight division. 

Nonetheless, “The Machine” isn’t interested in fighting his teammate and current champion Aljamain Sterling. 

During an appearance on the “Believe You Me” podcast, Smith shared his thoughts on the Dvalishvili-Sterling friendship. 

I think that this has to be kind of a mutual thing,” Smith said. “And it’s gonna be some hard conversations, but if Aljamain is as good of a friend to Merab as Merab is to Aljo – and that’s the thing, I don’t know that I’ve seen it go both ways. What I’ve seen is Merab ride hard as s**t for his best friend. I haven’t always necessarily seen it go the other way for Aljo, maybe he’s just not – well I’m not saying they’re not, I’m just saying I haven’t seen it.” (Transcribed MMA News)

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UFC president Dana White advised Dvalishvili to look after his own interests. He doesn’t think it’s a good idea for the Tbilisi, Georgia native to avoid a fight with his close friend.

Merab Dvalishvili Does Not Envision a Scrap with Aljamain Sterling

Dvalishvili and Sterling are long-time teammates who represent the Serra-Longo Fight Team. A matchup between the two bantamweights seems unlikely due to their close relationship but things could change. 

There have been many UFC matchups between former teammates. Examples include T.J. Dillashaw-Cody Garbrandt, Colby Covington-Jorge Masivdal, Kamaru Usman-Gilbert Burns and Jon Jones- Rashad Evans. 

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Sterling is reportedly expected to face Henry Cejudo at UFC 288 on May 8. Since winning the bantamweight title in March 2021, the “Funk Master” has defended the strap twice- against Yan and Dillashaw. 

Dvalishvili, 32, is on a nine-fight unbeaten streak. His resume includes wins over Yan, José Aldo, Marlon Moraes, Cody Stamann and John Dodson.

Marc Ray has lived his entire life in Houston, Texas, where he was born, raised and attended the University of Houston, studying broadcast journalism. As you may imagine, he spends much of his time watching mixed martial arts as part of his daily routine — not only to pump himself up, but also because he deeply enjoys the sport. Ray has worked for Houston Public Media, where he interned in the newsroom and produced community stories. Ray also created sports features in Houston for El Gato Media Network and occasionally produced content for an internship at AARP.