Much has been made and said of current UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling who has wrongly been criticized since becoming champion. Back at UFC 259, Sterling took an illegal knee from then-champion Petr Yan, and due to that knee, Yan would be disqualified and Sterling was named the new UFC bantamweight champion.
Since then, Yan has accused Sterling of being an actor and faking his reaction to the illegal knee, and plenty of fan criticism has followed. The two will have their rematch later this year at UFC 267 in October, and Aljamain Sterling’s confidence going into the fight is beaming.
Making an appearance on Sirius XM’s ‘MMA Today‘, Sterling responded to fan criticism, discussed why he feels Yan couldn’t touch him on his best day, and more. While there was plenty of back-and-forth chatter between the two rivals, Sterling started by saying that he’s a fan of his upcoming opponent while responding to fan criticism.
— MMA on SiriusXM (@MMAonSiriusXM) July 28, 2021
“I’m a fan of [Petr] Yan in term of his body of work, I’m a fan of Urijah Faber, Dominick Cruz, TJ Dillashaw. I appreciate fighters, even if they’re in my weight class, it’s just a difference. I’m not going to say I don’t like this guy anymore because he didn’t do something that didn’t suit my needs. Those aren’t real fans, they just watch the sport and at the end of the day, those are the ones we’re entertaining, and I can’t wait to shut them the f**k up.”
When asked what it would take to shut the fans up and prove them wrong, Sterling knows he has to back up his words and do everything he said he sets out to do against Yan in their rematch later this year.
“I have to go out there and dominate Petr Yan the way I said I was going to dominate him. I truly do believe the second time we do this, I’m gonna do that. I really do think this guy is training like a mad man right now because he felt something in there, even with me being compromised, he felt something in there that I was a different type of level as far as my athletic ability and my skill. I think when you see something like that you have to go back, make the corrections, and do the work, and that’s what Petr Yan is doing.”
Although he paid respect to his opponent and believes Yan is putting in the work ahead of their rematch, Aljamain Sterling admitted that he believes on his best day, he doesn’t get touched.
“I think he’s an intelligent fighter, I think it’s going to be a completely different fight, but I do really, really think that on my best day, that guy doesn’t touch me. At least right now, the way I feel, if I felt good, that guy doesn’t touch me. If I show up the way I did against Pedro Munhoz, that guy does not touch me. If I show up the way I did against Cory Sandhagen and all these other guys, that guy does not touch me. I know I have to go out there and prove the doubters wrong, and do it the way I said I want to do it, the way I envision it.”
A winner of six consecutive fights in the UFC’s bantamweight division, Aljamain Sterling has proven his worth and cemented his place atop the division. Now, despite all the chatter from fans and Petr Yan, he plans to prove he is levels above the former champion when they meet for their rematch at UFC 267.
Mike Pendleton is a current contributor to MyMMANews while also hosting his “On The Mic” podcast and is a former Associate Producer at Sirius XM’s Fight Nation.
With a special passion for interviewing and talking to the very best around the fight game, you can read or listen to Mike’s work across his multiple outlets.
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