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Merab Dvalishvili Feels Disrespected by Dana White

Merab Dvalishvili doesn’t understand the animosity getting lobbed his way by fight fans as well as his boss, UFC CEO Dana White, regarding his friendship with Aljamain Sterling, especially now that Sterling is no longer the UFC bantamweight champion.

In the aftermath of Sterling’s shocking title loss to Sean O’Malley at UFC 292, White issued a scathing rebuke of Dvalishvili’s approach to his career, even going so far as to question why Dvalishvili got into MMA if his loyalty toward his longtime friend and training partner Sterling was going to hinder his road to the belt. White’s words drew criticism from some, as O’Malley’s victory seemingly cleared up the Team Serra-Longo dilemma that Sterling and Dvalishvili faced, but they left Dvalishvili more confused than anything else.

“I don’t understand it,” Dvalishvili said of White . “Maybe I don’t understand, maybe I don’t know. I’m a [real] fighter and what I know I deserve. “My job is to fight and I’m ready to fight, and that’s all I know.”

Dvalishvili, 32, currently rides a division-best nine-fight win UFC streak and is the top-ranked bantamweight on the promotion’s own rankings aside from O’Malley and Sterling, however it appears as if that may not be enough to get him the title shot he’s long coveted. Following O’Malley’s victory, the new champ skipped over Dvalishvili as a contender and instead called out No. 6 ranked Chito Vera for his first title defense.

The UFC has yet to formalize O’Malley vs. Vera as the division’s next championship bout, but if that is the direction the promotion takes, it’ll leave Dvalishvili as the odd man out. And after tearing through a gauntlet longer than any non-champion has in UFC bantamweight history, Dvalishvili can’t help but feel aggrieved by how the situation appears to be playing out.


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