Aljamain Sterling has a message for all his haters: be quiet.
Last Saturday, Sterling successfully defended his bantamweight title when he beat Petr Yan in their rematch at UFC 273. The victory was especially sweet for the champion, who spent the past year being denounced by many fans for winning the title via disqualification in his first fight with Yan at UFC 259.
Now, without the ghost of the DQ controversy hanging over this title win, “The Funk Master” is enjoying its “told ya so” moment.
“It feels great,” Sterling said to Ariel Helwani MMA class. “It feels good to know that everything I have said since the first time we fought against each other, that I was absolutely right. What I said, the reason I had a bad night, was the way I felt and I was not bulls *******.
“People can say it’s a stupid excuse, and it is. I know it’s a stupid excuse, I know I sound stupid to say it out loud, but that’s the truth, and that’s what happened. And I feel like if I had gotten ready and not had that hiccup, I would have finished Petr Yan in the first meeting we had. Because that version of himself was not as good as him, I struggled with at UFC 273. That Petr Yan was much better, had a lot more discipline when it came to his defense, and I felt like he was just better, and I felt I was comfortably won, still. Two 10-8 rounds, I feel like I should have had two 10-8 rounds. I do not know how to get four minutes of control time, ground and pound and submission attempts, and it does not hit the criteria that they implemented in 10-8 rounds.
“I’m just happy. I’m glad I got my team right, proved I was right, and that I had to keep it to Vegas and let these guys suck it. And that’s really it. People will be malicious and talk about your family, talk about all this, call me a monkey, throw the N-bomb, a whole bunch of shit, I dealt with a lot and it’s good I have thick skin, because it would have crushed a lot of people, but not this guy. This guy came prepared, ready for battle, and I came ready to win. “
Although Sterling made a strong case that he deserved at least one 10-8 round in the match, none of the referees for the event gave him one. In the end, it did not matter as Sterling still swept the first three rounds on two referees’ scorecards. And according to the champion, it was only so close because he took his foot off the gas in rounds four and five.
“When I had it, I thought,’m up three rounds, if I want to take the next two rounds off, I can, ‘” Sterling said. “And honestly, that was kind of what happened. … If I wanted to get up in the fourth round, I could have got up. But I started playing jiu-jitsu, and honestly, it’s one of The things I do way too much in the gym I get so comfortable submitting guys from my back and looking for scrambles – he was down three rounds and I think he knew he needed one pocket, so that I could just hang out, I accepted that position.If I wanted to get up, I could have done it …. I could have got up again and not given him a chance to score a round at all that fight and I gave the round away and he started building momentum … that’s what it is. I fought a great fight, I think I fought a smart fight. I gave two rounds away that I could easily have fought very, very differently or fought the same [as the first three rounds], because the gas tank was not a problem. But no matter what, it was a fun fight, people got excited because they thought there would be moments to ‘get me’, and that’s what it is. I shut up for all the funk. I’m the undisputed, the only king in this bantamweight division right now. “
But even though this victory was more definitive than Sterling and Yan’s original title fight at UFC 259, it does not mean that it went completely without controversy. After the fight, Yan argued that he should have won, a claim that was repeated by some in the MMA community, including UFC president Dana White and former UFC referee who became Bellator commentator John McCarthy.
The turning point in question for the match is the opening streak, where Sterling landed Yan 19-13 in significant strikes, but Yan was the one who came forward. Sterling argues that the scoring criteria here are crystal clear and that anyone who says otherwise does not know what they are talking about.
“Come on! Can you both throw less than 20 strokes, a guy throw 5-7 strokes less, depending on whether you count some of those who fell from the shoulder as a victory?” said Sterling. “How can you win by going forward with a vicious face and throwing 5-7 strikes less than the opponent because you went forward and were schooled with footwork. How does it win you a round? People can say aggression anything they want – aggression is not s *** if you do not cut me off and land strikes and do what you want. If you fight my battle and do what I want you to do, which is to chase me around and get shot and take clean shots, then I do not know what to tell you. You do not know how to score a match.
“The rulebook, according to the criteria, you score injury, effective stroke, and my stroke was more effective, and I checked and dictated where the match took place throughout the round. So I think it’s pretty black and white. And let’s not even talk about the elbow I broke his head with and which made him stumble backwards, that was the most marked blow in that round.So people who say robbery, what is a robbery? I do not even know what a robbery is longer …. Everything is a robbery because your guy did not win the round.
“There’s absolutely no way you could score that round – big stupid John McCarthy voice. Dude, go and get a clue. I do not know how this guy has ever been the standard of MMA, because that guy is lousy. His opinion stinks and it stinks. he just says s *** and i think he just wants people to think he knows what he’s talking about.I think he had an MMA school , I think he had fighters, which of them has ever done anything? What did his school ever do? For it is clear that this guy is so amazing, so what has he ever accomplished, other than trying to judge people and make complete mistakes regarding the scoring criteria of the match.
“If you want an opinion, have an opinion, John. It’s OK, but that does not mean you’re right because you do not follow the criteria of how to score a match. So just be quiet and let the big ones boys do what they do at a high level, something you have never been able to achieve. Relax there, buddy. “