After building a five-fight winning streak that included victories over Cory Sandhagen, Pedro Munhoz, and Jimmie Rivera, Sterling received an opportunity to claim gold in the first of two March pay-per-views this year. Deep into the fourth round against Russia’s Yan, “Funk Master” was struck by an illegal knee and was deemed unfit to continue, resulting in a disqualification victory for the 32-year-old.
Despite initially admitting that he didn’t enjoy taking the title the way he did, Sterling has since embraced the criticism of his title legitimacy and has consistently fired back at fans and fighters who regard him as a fake champ.
But despite coming to terms with the words and insults that regularly fly his way, Sterling has admitted that he’s relishing the chance to shut them up with his next performance.
During an appearance on MMA on SiriusXM, the 135-pound champion revealed his intention to finally stop the haters, who he described as “casuals” and fake fans, in their tracks when he rematches Yan later this year.
“We’re gonna run it back in October in Abu Dhabi, October 30th, and I can finally shut everybody up because it’s as if none of my past performances matter. And for them to not realize that that was a shell of myself, they’re not real fight fans. These guys are just bandwagoners. ‘Oh, I’m not a fan anymore.’ You guys were never fans. And those guys, I really do not care for. Those are the guys who I consider casuals.”
Sterling went on to give the “casuals” a lesson in how to be real fan. According to the champ, being a true supporter of the sport involves acknowledging and respecting every fighter’s strengths inside the Octagon, rather than constantly slamming those they don’t like.
“This is how different a fan I am. I’m a fan of all these fighters. I’m a fan of Yan in terms of his body of work. I’m a fan of Urijah Faber, Dominick Cruz, T.J. Dillashaw. Like, I appreciate fighters, even if they’re in my weight class. It’s just a difference. I’m not gonna say I don’t like this guy anymore because he did something that didn’t suit my needs. That’s such a selfish and weird thing, and those aren’t real fans. They just watch the sport. And at the end of the day, those are the people we’re entertaining, and I can’t wait to shut them the fuck up,” said Sterling.
Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan are expected to collide for the second time at UFC 267. The event, which is expected to take place on October 30 in Abu Dhabi, will reportedly not be featured on PPV in the United States and will be available through a combination of ESPN and ESPN+.
The card is shaping up to be one of the best of the year. Along with the bantamweight title fight, Jan Blachowicz is also expected to defend his gold against Brazil’s Glover Teixeira. With the recently announced bout between Islam Makhachev and Rafael dos Anjos, along with matchups featuring Khamzat Chimaev, Tai Tuivasa, and Amanda Ribas, UFC 267 is looking stacked.
Do you think Aljamain Sterling will successfully defend his belt in his rematch with Petr Yan at UFC 267?