In the co-main event of the April 9 pay-per-view, Sterling and Yan collided for the second time, with the bad blood built in the aftermath of their 2021 meeting evident in the build-up. Against the odds and expectations of many, “Funk Master” put in an impressive performance to secure his first successful title defense via split decision.
In the aftermath, UFC President Dana White revealed his disagreement with the result, as did prominent MMA figure McCarthy. The Bellator analyst assessed the opening round of the contest, which seemed to be the deciding factor in the result, during an episode of his podcast, claiming that there was no way anyone could justify scoring it for Sterling.
What followed was a series of interactions and insults on social media between not only the champ and McCarthy, but also the former ref’s podcast co-host Josh Thomson.
But despite his initial stance, McCarthy later reevaluated his remarks. Some days after defending his opinion on Twitter, the 59-year-old walked back his take, admitting he’d had a change of heart after re-watching the contest.
“John amended his statement, and that was a cool move. He did not have to do that,” said Sonnen during a video uploaded to his YouTube channel. “I thought this was pretty clear 3-2 (Sterling). Big John came out and said, ‘No, no, no. You cannot give that first round to Sterling. There’s no way to do that.’ He was pretty definitive on it. Sterling spoke up, it really pissed him off.
“X amount of time has gone by, where are we at? A month, more than a month, closer to two, John comes out and says, ‘I was wrong.’ I like that, I like anytime somebody is willing to be wrong when they’re confronted with evidence they had not previously considered,” added Sonnen. “It’s one of those great things about leadership.”
While Sonnen is no stranger to posting reactionary opinions online, as he admitted in the video, he believes that McCarthy’s reputation and place in the sport makes accuracy all that more important.
Sonnen: McCarthy Maintained Credibility With Backtrack
McCarthy, who featured as a referee inside the Octagon from 1994 to 2018, is widely credited for his role in creating the scoring criteria used to judge mixed martial arts bouts.
With that in mind, and with his efforts to educate the next generation of officials and judges, Sonnen believes that McCarthy’s decision to publicly backtrack his view on the result was important in maintaining his credibility.
“It’s one of these things where his opinion does matter, so for him to come back and say, ‘You know what, here’s exactly what happened, I re-watched it, I do see how you could come to Sterling.’ He didn’t go as far as to say that was the conclusion he came to,” said Sonnen. “He even said, ‘I did the number one thing I’m not supposed to do, which is I’m hosting a party in my living room, I got buddies over, thinking I’m seeing all the action.’
“So after his statements and in light of it, and not to mention six to eight weeks have gone by, he watches it and he goes to the same form, which was the Internet. He made the statement on the Internet, he returned to the Internet to amend the statement. I liked it, I really do,” continued Sonnen. “I’m a fan, you’re a fan, let’s talk. (But) John does come with a different expectation of accuracy due to the credibility. He maintains his credibility in full. That was an awesome move.”
While he acknowledged and respected McCarthy’s amended thoughts, Sterling seemingly still has a gripe with the 59-year-old’s refusal to acknowledge the second round of the contest as a 10-8.
Sterling has continued to take aim at his detractors and doubters, as well as those who scored the fight in Yan’s favor. While McCarthy took the brunt of the champ’s wrath, the likes of Robert Whittaker and Tai Tuivasa also didn’t escape a mention.
Do you agree with Chael Sonnen?