Merab Dvalishvili wants Cory Sandhagen for title shot if Aljamain Sterling vacates title

Merab Dvalishvili thinks Cory Sandhagen deserves the next shot at the bantamweight title.
Merab Dvalishvili
Merab Dvalishvili / Alex Bierens de Haan/GettyImages

It's no secret that No. 1 contender Merab Dvalishvili and reigning bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling refuse to fight each other. It's also no secret that Dvalishvili deserves the next title shot.

On Saturday Sterling will defend his title against Sean O'Malley and, should he win, will vacate the title and move to 145 pounds. At least, that's the plan.

With no champion, Dvalishvili thinks he's next in line to fight for the vacant title and told MMA Junkie that he knows who he'd like to see across the Octagon from him when that time comes.

“If Aljo moves up and he vacates the belt, I think I’m No. 1,” Dvalishvili said. “Cory’s coming from a winning streak. He beat tough, top guys last three wins. I think we should fight (for the) title. Henry (Cejudo) is just coming off the loss, and there is no one else right now deserves it more than us.”

Some fans have criticized Sandhagen for his win over Rob Font, citing that it was boring due to the heavy grappling involved. Something Dvalishvili is familiar with.

Merab Dvalishvili defended Cory Sandhagen's performance 'You did what you were supposed to do'

“I said, ‘Listen bro, don’t listen to these crazy people online,'” Dvalishvili said. “‘You did great. You did what you were supposed to do. You stopped Rob Font and you won in a dominant way. You outgrappled him. Enjoy your victory and be happy.’ I told Cory Sandhagen next fight, you should only fight for the title.”

And what if Sterling doesn't move up to 145 pounds? Dvalishvili still thinks Sandhagen gets the next shot.

“If Aljo stays at 135, Cory is next,” Dvalishvili said. “But if Aljo moves up, Cory is next, but I’m next, too. I think that’s the fight. If Cory needs time, I can wait for him. But if they give me a fight with Cory, I will fight whenever.”

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