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By David Tees on 3/17/2023 7:06 PM

Merab Dvalishvili is a close friend and training partner of UFC Bantamweight Champion Aljamain Sterling and both men have publicly stated that they will not fight each other.

Sterling is reiterating that point by saying he won’t throw away his friendship with Dvalishvili, even for a $500,000 paycheck from the UFC.

“It’s his business, so I know that he’s going to try to make the matchups that the fans want to see, and I know the fans would love to see that,” Sterling said on My Mom’s Basement with Robbie Fox (transcript via Danny Segura of MMA Junkie). “Merab is a great dude. He’ll take off his shirt for anybody. He doesn’t even have to know you, he’s just that type of guy. To have that relationship with him and to throw it away for 500K? You know what I mean?”

The bantamweight champion will be defending the gold next against former two division UFC champion Henry Cejudo at UFC 288.

There is a chance that both Sterling and Dvalishvili could change their stance on fighting each other, but Sterling says it would take life changing money for that to happen.

“We never talked about that, and for us to fight for that kind of money, it doesn’t make a ton of sense,” Sterling explained. “Now, if we were talking about NFL money, money that can, actually – these guys make $50 million for like one or two years, you know what I mean? That’s life-changing money, you see what I’m saying?

“Why would we ever cross that type of line to do something that’s not going to last us, that’s not going to set us up financially for the rest of our lives? That’s just not worth it for me. I’m going to be there every step of the way, he’s going to be there with me as well. I met his family, and he’s met my family. We live across the street from each other. We both moved here with a goal in mind. I plan on eventually going up to 145, I want to just take out the trash, and I know ‘Triple Turd’ is saying whatever he’s saying about beating us both in one night.”