Umar Nurmagomedov's rep says Dvalishvili declined May fight
Merab Dvalishvili turned down the UFC's offer to headline UFC Fight Night on May 13 against Umar Nurmagomedov because of an injury, Nurmagomedov's management told TSN's Aaron Bronsteter.
A representative for Dominance MMA added that the promotion now wants to book Dvalishvili-Nurmagomedov for July.
Dvalishvili's manager, Oren Hodak, said his client is interested in a "much more high-profile" matchup against Cory Sandhagen instead. Sandhagen called out Dvalishvili after a win over Marlon Vera in the UFC San Antonio main event Saturday.
"Merab just fought, and he fought injured," Hodak said. "Nothing to talk about until the May 6 title fight (between bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling and Henry Cejudo) happens."
Dvalishvili said last Thursday he suffered a hand injury two weeks before his dominant win over former champ Petr Yan in a UFC Fight Night main event on March 11. He said he re-injured his hand during the fight and still felt pain as of March 23.
Dvalishvili is ranked No. 1 in the division and is in prime position for a title shot. However, he has said he won't fight Sterling, his teammate and friend. UFC president Dana White said earlier in March it'd be a "bad idea" for Dvalishvili to avoid a fight against Sterling.
Nurmagomedov, the cousin of UFC legend Khabib Nurmagomedov, is a rising star at 135 pounds, but he's ranked No. 11.
Light heavyweight contenders Anthony Smith and Johnny Walker reportedly agreed last month to headline the May 13 event, but the UFC hasn't announced that bout.