UFC champ Aljamain Sterling gives technical breakdown on Merab Dvalishvili vs. Cory Sandhagen

Hear from the UFC bantamweight champion on how he thinks a potential fight between Dvalishvili and Sandhagen would go.

By: Kristen King | 2 months ago
UFC champ Aljamain Sterling gives technical breakdown on Merab Dvalishvili vs. Cory Sandhagen
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JUNE 05: L-R Opponents Aljamain Sterling and Cory Sandhagen face off during the UFC 250 weigh-in at UFC APEX on Friday, Jun 5, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Diego Ribas/PxImages/Icon Sportswire MMA: JUN 05 UFC 250 Weigh-In Icon2006050173250

UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling says Cory Sandhagen would have a tough time with Merab Dvalishvili in a potential fight.

This past Saturday, Sandhagen earned a split decision against Marlon Vera at UFC San Antonio. After his win, the ‘Sandman’ expressed interest in Dvalishvili, a fellow contender he deemed the ‘perfect challenge’ for his style of fighting.

Aljamain Sterling and Dvalishvili were in attendance for Vera vs. Sandhagen, so the duo got some intel from their respective performances. And from what the ‘Funk Master’ saw, he would expect his Serra-Longo Fight Team teammate to ‘break’ Sandhagen.

“I think Round 1, Merab takes him down multiple times,” said Sterling on his official YouTube channel. “The difference is keeping him down. But I think seeing how Sandhagen slowed down in Rounds 3, 4 and even 5, I can see how Merab can break him. I think that would the difference in that type of matchup, that pace, that style and keeping Cory on his back foot.”

Since he had previously fought Sandhagen a few years ago, Aljamain Sterling also gave Dvalishvili his own blueprint that should lead him to a win.

“You even notice with ‘Chito’ when Sandhagen was pressing forward and ‘Chito’s’ on his back foot, he couldn’t really kick the way that he wanted to,” said Sterling. “He couldn’t let them things fly. But the moment that he let ‘Chito’ press forward in some of Rounds 3, 4 and mostly 5, he was able to get off some of those kicks a little bit more and find more range and find a home for those strikes a little bit more often.

“But when you push a guy like that backwards between ‘Chito’ and Sandhagen, they’re forced to just use their boxing predominantly,” continued Sterling. “That’s the difference. So keep them on the back foot, time those takedowns. And if you don’t get the takedowns, come up with strikes off the break and just mix it up. You mix it up better, you’re usually going to win the fight. And whoever has the better gas tank, which we all know the ‘Machine’ is the ‘Machine’ for a reason and I like that matchup. So if Cory’s feeling froggy, man, let’s go. We can line that one up, too. Let me do my job here with Henry in six weeks and we’ll see what happens with the division and how everything is playing out.”

Following his win against Petr Yan at UFC Las Vegas, Dvalishvili was reportedly offered a headlining opportunity against Umar Nurmagomedov in May. However, the ‘Machine’ declined, as he was still dealing with a hand injury he suffered prior to the Yan fight.

It is unclear when he expects to return, but when he does, Dvalishvili says he wants a ’Sandhagen sandwich’ next.

About the author: Kristen King is a writer for Bloody Elbow. She has covered combat sports since 2016. (full bio)

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About the author
Kristen King
Kristen King

Kristen King is a writer for Bloody Elbow. She has covered combat sports since 2016, getting her start with outlets such as FanSided, MyMMANews and MMA-Prospects. She joined the BE team in 2020, covering a mix of news, events and injuries. In her time with BE, Kristen has created ‘Fright of the Night,’ a series that highlights some of the worst injuries in the sport.

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