“Nobody ever told Khabib and Islam,” Rising contender exposes UFC’s hypocrisy after pitting friends Merab Dvalishvili and Aljamain Sterling to fight

Grant Dawson discusses the UFC forcing Merab Dvalishvili and Aljamain Sterling to fight against their wishes.


“Nobody ever told Khabib and Islam,” Rising contender exposes UFC’s hypocrisy after pitting friends Merab Dvalishvili and Aljamain Sterling to fight

Grant Dawson compares Aljamian Sterling and Merab Dvalishvili's current situation with that of Khabib Nurmagomedov and Islam Makhachev ( Image via L - Imago R- Instagram )

Friendship in the UFC can be a complex and challenging dynamic. This was recently in the cases of Aljamain Sterling and Merab Dvalishvili. The two fighters have found themselves in the crosshairs of UFC CEO Dana White for their commitment to not fight against each other. Grant Dawson, spoke on this predicament and anticipated a similar problem in his future career.

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In Dawson’s eyes, Sterling and Dvalishvili are making a principled stand. He commended their loyalty to their friendship and their unwavering training partnership. He believes it has propelled them to the pinnacle of their division. Interestingly, Dawson draws attention to a contrasting situation involving Khabib Nurmagomedov and Islam Makhachev. The duo were never pressured to compete against each other. “Everybody’s talking s*** on Aljamain Sterling and Merab Dvalishvili…Nobody ever told Khabib and Islam that they had to fight each other, “ Dawson said.

This observation raises questions about the UFC‘s approach to such scenarios. Dawson hints that this pressure seems confined to the American Top Team, the gym they all share. “The only gym that they ever bring this up in is American Top Team,” Dawson said. This he perceives is perhaps due to the high caliber of fighters within.

In contrast, fighters from other gyms, like Dan Hooker and Alexander Volkanovski have never had to grapple with the prospect of facing their closest friends and training partners. There are certain boundaries Grant Dawson would not cross in the octagon. He firmly believes that preserving some friendships is paramount, even if it means steering clear of a prize fight.

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Related: “I know I deserve,” Baffled Merab Dvalishvili fires back at Dana White for criticism over fighting dilemma with Aljamain Sterling

Dominance of teammates Merab Dvalishvili, Aljamain Sterling, Khabib Nurmagomedov, and Islam Makhachev in their respective division

Aljamain Sterling and Merab Dvalishvili have a close friendship, which has led to their refusal to fight each other in the UFC’s bantamweight division. There have been updates suggesting that Dvalishvili may reconsider his stance on not fighting Sterling. Meanwhile, Islam Makhachev has been a longtime teammate and friend of Khabib Nurmagomedov. They both train together at the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) and have supported each other in their MMA careers.

Aljamain Sterling Khabib Nurmagomedov
Aljamain Sterling and Khabib Nurmagomedov iin the UFC ( Image via L- Twitter R- Imago )

Khabib Nurmagomedov and Islam Makhachev have both made significant achievements in the UFC. Khabib boasts an impressive undefeated record with 29 wins and no losses in his professional career. This made him one of the most dominant fighters in the history of the sport. He held the UFC Lightweight Championship and successfully defended it every time. Khabib retired from the UFC in 2021 and was subsequently inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. Meanwhile, Islam Makhachev is a rising star in the UFC’s Lightweight division, following in the footsteps of Khabib. Makhachev holds a professional record of 24 wins and 1 loss and is the current UFC lightweight champion.

Meanwhile, Aljamain Sterling and Merab Dvalishvili are both notable figures in the UFC with their own achievements and storylines. Aljamain Sterling became the UFC Bantamweight Champion after defeating Petr Yan at UFC 259. Thereafter he successfully his title three times against Petr Yan, TJ Dillashaw, and Henry Cejudo respectively. However, he recently lost the bantamweight title to Sean O’Malley at UFC 292. Merab Dvalishvili is also a talented bantamweight fighter in the UFC. He has accumulated an impressive professional record with a notable presence in the bantamweight division. Dvalishvili has maintained an impressive winning streak since 2018, racking up 9 consecutive wins against fighters like Petr Yan, Jose Aldo, and others.

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