Saturday, November 26, 2022

Sterling ‘Doesn’t Care’ About Respect From Fans After Yan Win

UFC Bantamweight Champion Aljamain Sterling does not “give two sh*ts” about how fans and others in the MMA community perceive him.

Sterling appeared to become public enemy number one in the MMA space owing to one singular illegal knee — a shot that he was the victim of.

While he’d entered his title shot against Petr Yan at UFC 259 riding a five-fight in streak that had many excited about his chances, a title win via disqualification brought with it accusations of acting and dismissiveness towards his place on the 135-pound throne.

The decision to go under the knife to repair damage to his neck provided another means of criticism for his detractors, as did the decision to withdraw from his scheduled rematch with the Russian at UFC 267 last October.

But over a year after winning the gold, “Funk Master” put it on the line against “No Mercy” at UFC 273 this past April, and delivered a performance that was not only worthy of legitimizing his reign, but also of turning the tables on how many fans viewed him.

While many would perhaps be pleased to have more of a backing from the fanbase, Sterling’s time on the opposite end of the spectrum has taught him not to care about what “fickle” supporters thing.

Sterling: “Fans Can Be Very, Very Fickle”

During a recent appearance on Submission Radio ahead of his second title defence, which is set to come against TJ Dillashaw at UFC 280 later this month, Sterling was asked for his thoughts on the respect he’s been given since adding a second victory over Yan to his professional résumé.

Ultimately, Sterling admitted that he doesn’t care what anyone says or thinks about him and his performances inside the Octagon. That’s a mindset he said was solidified during the first year of his bantamweight rule.

“Honestly, If I’m being brutally honesty, I really don’t care what people think about me,” Sterling said. “It is what it is. People are gonna think whatever they wanna think, regardless of what you say. I think the buildup of the past 13 months leading up to that fight, the rematch, kind of solidified that for me.

“I was just like, ‘Man, this just really signifies how people are.’ Once there’s a narrative, you’re painted as a bad guy or a good guy, it doesn’t matter, people’s minds won’t change unless they want it to change for themselves. You can’t live for other people, you’ve gotta live for yourself,” Sterling added. “So, for me, I really didn’t give a shit. Winning or losing, all I cared about was having a good performance.”

After citing the original consensus opinion change following his disqualification win in 2021, Sterling noted the “fickle” nature of many fans, which is something a number of fighters have spoken about in the past.

“I guess people show me respect now? I guess it’s okay. They were respecting me before the first Yan fight, then all of a sudden it just flip flops,” Sterling stated. “It just goes to show you how this world can really just flip upside down in the blink of an eye… At the end of the day, these people don’t know me personally. I’m just here to do my job and entertain.

“People are gonna have an opinion, they’re gonna judge you. Once you make peace with that in your mind and heart, you can live freely and not give two sh*ts about what anyone else says or thinks… It’s noise. It’s nice to have the respect… but I don’t think that type of stuff should change the way you live,” Sterling continued. “I don’t like using this term, but it’s spot on on how the fans can be, they can be very, very fickle.”

Sterling’s comments perhaps come as little surprise given the apology search he conducted post-UFC 273.

While he evidently isn’t all too bothered about earning further respect when he heads to Abu Dhabi for his next Octagon appearance this month, “Funk Master” will certainly be searching for a tighter grip on the bantamweight title by dispatching former divisional king Dillashaw.

This story originally appeared on MMANews.com. Please provide transcription credit with a link to this article if you use any of these quotes.

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