High drama engulfed the UFC Apex last Saturday as Aljamain Sterling won the bantamweight title by disqualification against Petr Yan, and he had a lot to say about the nay-sayers implying the win was illegitimate.
The controversy consumed the night after one of the title fights ended with the champion Yan losing his belt due to an intentional foul. Confusion filled the Apex as those watching were unsure if Sterling would continue the fight. Although, after referee Mark Smith and the doctor intervened, it seemed clear that Sterling was unable to continue. The first champion to win the belt by disqualification gave his thoughts on the murky situation.
“I do remember asking, ‘How much time do I have’ Because I wanted to continue,” Aljamain Sterling said on his Weekly Scraps podcast. “In the moment, I’m thinking a whole bunch of things in my head: Dana (White’s) not going to give me another shot at the title, the fight’s going to be a no-contest, Dana’s going to say, ‘He was losing that fight in the fourth round, so why should we use him again? We already know the direction the fight was heading, so we’re going to move on from this.’ Then me, I’m never going to get the opportunity again.”
Sterling also processed the idea that getting back to a title opportunity is no easy feat.
“I’m going to have to win three or four more fights to get back in the position for a world title again. Sterling exclaimed. “Those thoughts are going through my head. Not, ‘I’m going to become world champion.’ This, I didn’t even think I was getting this. I didn’t even want this. Then all my friends and family see me. They knew I had this. They took it out of the bag for me. Put it on my shoulder and wanted me to proud of my performance and how I carried myself. They all knew it wasn’t the way I wanted to win, but they said I’m still the champ. I did this. It’s hard to in this position to fight for a world title.”
With such an impossible situation to deal with, Sterling took the advice and guidance from his coaches and corner after the UFC 259 fiasco.
Sterling Snaps Back At Fighters Criticizing
After the crazy conclusion, the MMA world took to social media platforms to let Sterling know that his title was attained under illegitimate circumstances. Also, many believed the bantamweight champion embellished in terms of the damage he took from the illegal knee. The irony of this statement comes from the fact that prior to the title fight with Yan, Aljamain Sterling said himself that Yan was a “paper champion” and not yet legitimate. Upon hearing from fellow fighters about his messy title win, Aljamain Sterling responded.
“For the fighters that said I milked it, good for you guys.” Sterling said. “Do you guys ever see me quit or look for a way out? “I fought my ass off the entire time, and I was not going to quit in that fight. “There’s no quit button whenever I’m in there. You guys might find it easy to talk about the Oscars and everything. You guys are the actors, and it might be a reflection or your own spirits.”
Even though Sterling was behind on the scorecards, he definitely presented obstacles for the former champion Yan. Not to mention, the challenger also landed more significant strikes in the fight. But the shocker of the night came when Yan succeeded in taking Sterling down seven times (successful in all attempts), while the Jamaican-American was barely able to score one takedown against the striker out of a whopping seventeen attempts. Given the madness at UFC 259, it seems a rematch will help lend much-needed clarity to the bantamweight division.
What do you think about Aljamain Sterling’s response to the critics of his DQ win? Let us know in the comment section below!