At UFC 273, Aljamain Sterling set out to kill two birds with one stone. He wanted to cement himself as the best bantamweight in the world by defeating Petr Yan and, in so doing, silence his sea of critics, detractors, and doubters.
When “The FunkMaster” had his arm raised at the conclusion of his rematch against Yan, it appeared as though he achieved both goals. However, much to Sterling’s chagrin and surprise, one controversial ending gave way to another, as now many are arguing that Yan was the rightful winner of the UFC 273 bout.
Sterling became champion last year after he was deemed unable to continue after an illegal knee from Petr Yan at UFC 259, which resulted in the Russian being disqualified.
After rulebook technicalities were spotlighted in Sterling’s title win last year, this time, some are giving the judges the lion’s share of the credit instead of the champion himself.
These reactions are commonplace with a fight as close as the UFC 273 co-main event, especially when one of the fighters is favored much more by the general public coming in. However, it is less common for UFC President Dana White to cry foul at the official result. But that’s exactly what happened when White said at the post-fight press conference that the judges botched the scorecards for Sterling/Yan 2.
White and the general consensus agree that it was Round 1 that determined the fight since Rounds 2 and 3 belonged to Sterling on every judges’ scorecard and Rounds 4 and 5 went to Yan.
Speaking on his YouTube channel, Sterling addressed the Round 1 debate and doesn’t understand how it’s even a question who was the rightful winner of the opening frame.
“I knew the round was really close, but I knew in my head, counting the strikes, I’m like, ‘This guy didn’t land anything really clean, like at all. I landed all the clean strikes. I was dictating the Octagon control that people were saying was the Octagon control for him.’
“So people think that Octagon control only works one way. You can’t just walk forward in a linear line, and chase the guy around the Octagon and think you’re controlling him. If I’m landing the more effective strikes—obviously by the strike count—and I’m circling and pivoting back to the center or I’m cutting away from you as you throw a strike and making you whiff, and miss, and kinda look stupid, I think I’m the one that’s controlling the Octagon right there….but somehow, one judge scored it for him for Octagon control…”
Sterling outscored Yan 20-13 in the first round according to the UFC’s official statistics. Thus, the bantamweight champion is struggling to understand how Yan won the round in the minds of some, especially since he believes he also had the most significant strike in the round.
“How can you score a round for someone just because they had an angry face and they walked forward <scrunches up face angrily>, ‘I’m going to get you. I’m going to get you.’ But you didn’t get me. I got you….so how did you win that round?” said Sterling.
“And I hit him with that hard step-in elbow that stumbled him backwards in that first round. And that was the most significant strike of that round. And no one wants to talk about that. Right on the top of his freakin’ dome. Stepped in and cracked his ass.”
Aljamain Sterling Responds To Dana White’s Post-Fight Remarks
Sterling would then address the remarks made by White himself. After discrediting White’s ability to judge a fight, he then lumped the UFC President in with everyone else he believes allowed their preconceived notions to influence their perception of the opening round.
“Dana’s not a judge,” Sterling said. “And again, I think everyone was so high on Yan: ‘Yan by anything he wants!’ ‘Yan by murder!’ ‘Oh, I can’t believe Aljo’s training so hard. Yo, you look so good. You’re shredded. And by the way, Yan by murder.’ And it’s like, oh, wow. The first time I read it, it was good, and then everyone kinda started recycling the same joke.
“But I think everyone had Yan so highly here and had me so far down here because of that first performance that what they were watching in the first round, ‘Oh, he does this to everybody. He does this to everybody. He’s just downloading data.’ I’m like, I don’t give a shit what you’re downloading. I don’t give a shit what you’re uploading. Bro, you lost the freakin’ round. You. Lost. Damage is what we score.”
Finally, Sterling expressed a strong desire for White to elaborate on how and why he scored the fight for Yan and what criteria is being used for him to arrive at that conclusion.
“And if Dana wants to say it comes down to the first round, ‘The judges definitely got it wrong, they blew that one…’ how’d they blow that one, Dana? Please, let me know based on the scoring criteria, Dana, how the hell did Petr Yan win that first round? Just make it make sense.
“Aggression? What was the aggression? You can’t be aggressive if you’re not throwing anything. And I don’t care how aggressive you are, if you’re missing, I’m the one making you look stupid with my footwork—purposeful footwork. That is skill. That other shit? That’s for the birds, boy.”
Podcaster and MMA analyst Brendan Schaub also came down hard on White for his comments. Schaub believes that Sterling was able to silence his doubters as he said he would, but White tarnished his moment by fueling an unjust debate instead of giving the champion due credit.
Although White disagrees with the scorecards, he has stated that Yan will not receive an immediate rematch and that T.J. Dillashaw is more than likely next in line for Sterling.
Who do you think won Round 1 of the UFC 273 rematch between Aljamain Sterling vs. Petr Yan?