UFC heavyweight contender Curtis Blaydes believes MMA fans are often “overly reactionary” and emotional when discussing the sport’s biggest topics.
Blaydes’ comments came after UFC Bantamweight Champion Aljamain Sterling was forced to withdraw from his scheduled title defense against Petr Yan at UFC 267. “Funk Master” has been out of action ever since his title crowning at UFC 259 in March. Having undergone neck surgery, Sterling was set to run it back with “No Mercy” in Abu Dhabi.
After not receiving medical clearance as a result of lingering issues following his operation, the champ withdrew. In his place, #3-ranked bantamweight Cory Sandhagen stepped up and will face Yan for the interim gold on October 30.
Despite the likes of Sandhagen supporting the creation of the belt and recognizing the serious nature of Sterling’s surgery, many, especially those within the UFC fanbase, have suggested the 32-year-old should have been stripped of his title.
In an interview with MMA News’ own James Lynch, Curtis Blaydes gave his take on the situation. According to “Razor,” fans are often too quick to judge situations in the heat of the moment. Citing calls for Sterling to be stripped as an example, the 30-year-old suggested many let their emotions take over when giving their opinions.
“MMA fans sometimes are a little overly reactionary and they let their emotions do the speaking. And I’m sure sometimes they regret what they say in the heat of the moment. Because I don’t agree with them. I don’t think he should be stripped of his title. I mean, if the man’s injured, why would he lie? Why would you not want to defend your title and prove to everyone you deserve it?”
Providing some context to Sterling’s withdrawal, Blaydes asserted that a fighter’s health is the most important thing. Given what he’s heard about the 135-pound champ’s situation, he believes Sterling was right to pull out of his rematch with Yan.
“I read in an article he said at this point, he can only do like a few rounds in a row before he starts to lose feeling and the fatigue starts to get to him. You want to be your best. It’s hard to go out there—and you know, like, ‘Hey, if I don’t get this guy out of this cage within the first two rounds, I don’t know what’s gonna happen.’ That’s really scary. So I can’t blame him for just wanting to be healthy. I hope he does get back healthy. I hope he does get the opportunity to walk around and at least get a chance. Like, he might lose, he might win, but I don’t want him to get stripped. I think that’s unnecessary.”
Catch our full exclusive interview with UFC heavyweight Curtis Blaydes below:
Do you agree with Curtis Blaydes? Or do you think Aljamain Sterling should have been stripped of the bantamweight belt?