Merab Dvalishvili, Aljamain Sterling confirm ‘fight’ for 3 rounds just before Dvalishvili faced Henry Cejudo at UFC 298

It turns out Merab Dvalishvili fought way more than three rounds this past Saturday night.

With a nickname like “The Machine,” it’s no surprise that the Georgian bantamweight prides himself on his conditioning but his preparation to get ready for Henry Cejudo at UFC 298 went beyond just warming up backstage. Instead, Dvalishvili actually engaged in a three-round fight with his best friend and former UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling, who was there as a coach and cornerman for him.

Dvalishvili’s longtime coach Ray Longo first revealed details about the insane sparring session during the Anik & Florian podcast on Monday.

“He literally fought Aljo, three rounds, f****** brutal,” Longo said. “Little gloves on, swinging for the f****** fences. Like Aljo complains about my boxing class sometimes. That’s way worse what I just saw!

“Dude, they went it at it three [five-minute rounds]. So that’s his second fight of the night. That’s a fact. That’s not even made up. You can check with John Wood, you can check with Aljo.”

Dvalishvili confirmed that’s exactly what happened during an appearance on The MMA Hour as he explained that fighting Sterling backstage got him ready for war against Cejudo just minutes later.

As wild as that sounds, especially given the chance for some kind of freak injury happening, Dvalishvili says that’s just how he prefers to warm up to really feel prepared for a fight.

“Yeah [that’s true],” Dvalishvili said about his coach’s story. “That’s how we warm up. I like to warm up good. But yeah, we are best friends and training partners. We beat each other [up] and make each other better. Then we are ready for anybody else.”

Longo promises there were no punches being pulled or just going through the motions for the sake of breaking a sweat.

Instead, he claims it was essentially the fight that Dvalishvili and Sterling would never do in the UFC thanks to their friendship but backstage without cameras around, all bets were off.

“Full blown f******* fight,” Longo said. “I go ‘Aljo, your cardio looks pretty good, we’re in good shape for your fight that’s in like two months [at UFC 300.’ I mean crazy, the guy’s nuts. No drilling, just complete chaos in that f***** warm up room.”

Sterling also detailed his experience working with Dvalishvili before the fight, which he promises is just part of their normal routine to get the Georgian ready.

“I spar with Merab for three rounds, three hard rounds,” Sterling said on his YouTube channel. “More of me in a squatted position so my height can drop, getting the absolutely dog s*** kicked out of my calf and he punched me in my eyeball one time, punched me in the back of my head. He did something to my kneecap.

“I was in a fight. I felt afterwards I was in a fight!”

The fight before the fight obviously paid off because outside of a closely contested opening round, Dvalishvili dominated Cejudo en route to a unanimous decision victory.

In fact, Dvalishvili says “I think sparring with Aljo” was a tougher fight than what Cejudo presented in their No. 1 contender’s bout.

Whatever transpired in that sparring session seemed to work as Dvalishvili notched his 10th consecutive win in a row with hopes that a title shot will be awaiting him next.

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