Aljamain Sterling is just beginning his run as bantamweight champ, but he might have a reason to make a move up to 145 pounds.
It isn’t usual for champions in one division to start thinking about moving up before they have ever had their first title defense, but Aljamin Sterling is. He isn’t ready to abandon ship just yet, but he could definitely envision a case in which he might make a move. That scenario would be to help out a teammate.
Sterling was asked recently in an interview with The Schmo about the possibility of facing his teammate Merab Dvalishvili. Both are at bantamweight in the UFC, Sterling as the champion, Dvalishvili quickly rising up the rankings.
“I’ve thought about it in the sense of, what would that even feel like? What would that even look like? I can see this with everybody else, but I could never envision Merab standing across the Octagon, one of these refs saying, ‘Are you ready? Are you ready? Fight.’ I think, at that point, things change dramatically in terms of relationships,” Sterling said. “You saw that with [Kamaru] Usman and Gilbert Burns. I think it changes everything. It changes the relationship. I mean, he’s helped me do so much. I’ve helped him do so much. I just could never see myself competing against a guy like that.”
The feeling is mutual as Dvalishvili has also stressed that he would not face his friend and teammate. This situation has come up before in which teammates would have to sit on the outside looking in while a teammate holds the belt.
Sterling went so far as to say he would consider leaving the division if he was not fairing well to give Dvalishvili a shot.
“I would even entertain going up to ’45 if it came down to it,” Sterling said. “If it came down to: I’m having a tough run at ’35 and he’s killing at ’35, and we’re at different points in our career, it’s like, maybe I need to change things up. You see that all the time. And maybe I go up a weight class.”
Sterling is recovering from injury at this point and waiting to finally make his first title defense. Dvalishvili is currently sitting in sixth and has won seven in a row.
How do you think Aljamain Sterling would do if he were to make the move to featherweight?