Cory Sandhagen has respect for Aljamain Sterling and Merab Dvalishvili not wanting to fight each other.
Last weekend, Dvalishvili would earn #1 contender status after he dominated former champ Petr Yan for five rounds. Despite him now holding the top spot in the bantamweight rankings, Dvalishvili isn’t calling for a title shot since his best friend Aljamain Sterling holds the title.
And for what feels like the thousandth time, Dvalishvili and Sterling have both declared they will never fight each other.
Sandhagen On The Situation
UFC President Dana White and others disapprove of the two not willing to put their friendship aside for a title fight, but the #5 ranked Sandhagen admires the commitment.
“I understand it for sure,” Sandhagen told Middle Easy at UFC San Antonio media day. “I honestly think that the both of them are setting a really good example for people. Like there’s maybe things that are more important than being a world champ, like keeping the relationships that you have with people that are really strong.”
“So, we’ll see when push comes to shove if that’s really what they stick with, which I’m really curious to see. But nah man, I commend both of them for the way that they’re approaching this thing. Again, I don’t judge, so the people in the past that have done it, that’s fine. But I think that it’s pretty cool that they’re conducting themselves in the way that they are in like a really awkward situation.”
Sandhagen Praises ‘The Machine’
Sandhagen would also applaud Dvalishvili’s performance against Yan in his last outing, noting it was very ‘inspiring’ to watch.
“It was badass, man,” Sandhagen continued. “It was inspiring. The thing that I think makes fighting the best sport in the world is how inspiring it is. It’s what I strive to do when I go into to the cage. I just want to inspire as many people as I can with my skills, with my hard work, with my heart. Merab had one of those like inspiring performances, and I think that that’s great.
“Even last week you see it with Gaethje and Fiziev, it was like, that’s like an inspiring performance that’s amazing. And then you see that guys like Volk [Alex Volkanovski] go up a weight class and fight Islam, barely lose, those are like really inspiring things to me. Merab’s fight against Yan was also another really inspiring fight to me.
“So that’s why I love this sport, man. That’s what I strive to do for other people, too. I know that those are things that like I remember. I think that that’s just like a super special thing.”