Sterling says Dvalishvili ‘has the blueprint already’ to beat Yan



Merab Dvalishvili, Aljamain Sterling and the rest of Serra-Longo Fight Team after UFC 278.
Merab Dvalishvili, Aljamain Sterling and the rest of Serra-Longo Fight Team after UFC 278. | Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC

The UFC bantamweight champion believes his teammate can defeat Yan with the same blueprint he used in his title-unifying performance at UFC 273 in April.

Aljamain Sterling says Merab Dvalishvili has the blueprint for defeating Petr Yan.

Yan is on a two-fight losing streak, coming up short against Sterling and Sean O’Malley in his recent Octagon appearances. For the reigning UFC bantamweight champion, those performances are the perfect guides for Dvalishvili to follow in his upcoming fight.

“For this, Merab needs to make sure he fights his pace of fight,” said Sterling on his official YouTube channel. “Slow him down by taking away his offense with his shots, his punches, his unorthodox striking that he just throws some wild stuff sometimes to keep Yan guessing. And then when Yan tries to be super technical, it’ll leave those wild strikes, some openings and some room for him to set things up to get those takedowns or just to get the entry and push him against the cage. Drop a couple strikes, push off, go back and do that again. It’s not Merab’s job to get off the cage. It’s Petr’s job to get off the cage and do damage. Merab’s job is to put him on the cage, do damage, try to take him down, do damage.

“And that’s going to be the tempo of the fight,” continued Sterling. “He’s gonna have to fight Merab’s fight the entire time. This is a dangerous fight for Merab, but this is just as dangerous of a fight for Petr Yan. When you’re at the top of the game, it’s a game of inches. Merab just needs to be super dialed in, and I think he has the blueprint already on how to beat him. He’s got a striker’s blueprint from Sean O’Malley. He’s got a wrestler’s blueprint for myself.”

Should Dvalishvili defeat Yan, he would extend his win streak to nine, which could lead to a championship opportunity. The ‘Machine’ and the ‘Funk Master’ have sworn off a potential fight, given their relationship as friends and teammates in the Serra-Longo Fight Team stable.

Though they would not fight each other, Sterling says he and Dvalishvili should be considered the top two 135-pound fighters in the world.

“We got two of the best guys in the world,” said Sterling. “When Merab beats Petr Yan, we will both be hands down literally No. 1 and No. 2 in the world.”

UFC Fight Night: Yan vs. Dvalishvili is scheduled for Sat., March 11, at The Theater at Virgin Hotels in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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