After a tough period following the crowning, which saw his reign doubted and delegitimized by many, “Funk Master” proved his detractors wrong this past April by adding a second victory over “No Mercy” to his record, this time following a full five-round affair.
While many acknowledged that Sterling had done enough to retain his gold, significant attention was directed to the reaction of UFC President Dana White, who appeared frustrated after reading the scorecards inside the Octagon. He later suggested that Yan should have had his hand raised.
For Sterling, that came as the latest piece of evidence that he perceives to be a dislike or lack of support from the promotion’s higher-ups, which he thinks may stem from some past comments he made about a polarizing debate.
Not many topics have remained at the forefront of the MMA agenda quite like fighter pay. And like many fighters, the bantamweight titleholder hasn’t shied away from criticizing the current scene at the lowest end of the UFC ladder.
Earlier this year, Sterling discussed his own struggles towards the start of his tenure in the promotion in response to Michael Chandler defending the promotion’s pay structure.
Sterling believes his vocal nature has been noted and acted on by the MMA leader.
Sterling Highlights UFC’s Efforts Against Him
In a recent video uploaded to his YouTube channel, Sterling can be seen answering questions from fans and media during an an open workout at the Longo-Weidman MMA gym in New York.
When asked what he hopes to be remembered for at the conclusion of his career, Sterling expressed a desire to form a reputation as someone who’s willing to fight with anyone the promotion lines him up against.
And with that, the bantamweight champ suggested that the UFC have long attempted to stall his rise by handing him the toughest opponents available. That, Sterling believes, derives from his comments on pay.
“No easy fights, man. I want everyone to recognize me as a guy who took no shortcuts,” Sterling said. “Anyone the UFC gave me. They tried to find all the opponents they thought could be a stylistic challenge for me to get me out of there.
“I know I made a big thing about fighter pay when I first got into the UFC. I graduated with a teacher’s degree, and I would’ve made more money by the time I’d had those fights,” Sterling continued. “I was like, ‘Dude, I could’ve been making more money being a teacher and doing something that doesn’t require me to work this hard.’ I think since then, they’ve kinda had it out for me. It is what it is.”
Should Sterling’s hypotheses be correct, he’ll look to continue spoiling the promotion’s plans by turning away another challenger next weekend at UFC 280.
In the Abu Dhabi-held pay-per-view’s co-main event, Sterling will collide with former champion TJ Dillashaw, who earned his shot at regaining the belt with a return victory over Cory Sandhagen last July.
What do you make of Aljamain Sterling’s assessment?
This story originally appeared on MMANews.com. Please provide transcription credit with a link to this article if you use any of these quotes.