The chaos that ensued with this past weekend’s UFC bantamweight title fight has brought plenty of criticism and reaction as Aljamain Sterling won the title from champion Petr Yan who was disqualified after throwing an illegal knee late in the fourth round. Sterling’s victory was the first in UFC history where the title changed hands due to the champion being disqualified.
Criticism and disappointment poured in from all angles following the fight, including from former champion TJ Dillashaw and Yan himself, as both fighters called out Sterling and said he was “faking” how bad he was hurt. The knee was illegal and thrown with intent, and following the event, ESPN released corner footage of Yan’s coaches in what was reported as instructing the former champion to throw the knee while Sterling was down.
After being declared the champion, Aljamain Sterling made it known that this was not how he wanted to win the title and he wanted the rematch, as does UFC President Dana White. On Monday, Sterling’s coach Ray Longo was a guest on ‘Unlocking The Cage’ with Jimmy Smith on Sirius XM’s Fight Nation and responded to the criticism of the fans, who pushed for Sterling to continue and took shots at him on social media. Longo would start out by saying, he was very happy with how Sterling was performing early in the fight.
🔊"I don't know what [fans] are upset about. The guy got his head kneed off his shoulders…I think people should be asking Yan, 'What the f*** would possess you to do that?'" – @raylongomma shared his thoughts on how Sterling vs Yan played out at #UFC259 with @jimmysmithmma 👊 pic.twitter.com/HMWj6xcLY5
— MMA on SiriusXM (@MMAonSiriusXM) March 9, 2021
“Extremely happy. I say if he could do that for four more rounds, he wins that fight probably pretty easy. I think his cardio failed him as it was going on. I gotta tell you, I thought the angles, the variety, the mixing up the kicks with the punches froze Yan. The first two minutes the guy [Yan] did absolutely nothing. As a coach, I’m happy. I know this is biased, I gave him [rounds] 1 and 2. Then he 100% lost the third, and he was losing the fourth. If he was deceisvely winning and that happened, I don’t think anybody would have a problem, but he was starting to lose, and his body language was awful and I think that’s why people got upset.”
No matter how the fight was being scored or how it was going, there’s no debating that Yan landed an illegal knee on Sterling and that’s what has Longo so confused about the reaction of many.
“I don’t know what they’re upset about. The guy got his head kneed off his shoulders, it was like execution style. I don’t understand. I wouldn’t let the guy continue, I don’t care if he could’ve or not. You’re already compromised and then you want to take that shot?
I think people should be asking Yan ‘What the f**k would posses you to do that?’ I don’t even care if your corner told you to do it. You’re a champion, you have fights in the UFC, you know the God d**n rules, it was pretty clear. [Referee] Mark Smith said it’s a down fighter, maybe he [Yan] doesn’t understand English. At the end of the day it’s like punching a guy in the balls on purpose, you know not to do it.”
With the entire outcome feeling unfortunate on both sides, Longo reiterated that this is not how Aljamain Sterling wanted to win the first UFC title of his career.
“It’s unfortunate because Aljo don’t want the belt like that, I feel weird. I say the best thing to do, let’s rerun it, as soon as Aljo is healthy as quick as possible and put an end to this s**t. Even the hatred I’m receiving I’m like ‘I don’t make the f**king rules’ and I couldn’t give a s**t what anybody says anyway. It’s bizzare, trust me, bizarre the hatred that’s coming out.”
It’s clear that neither Sterling nor his team is happy with how things played out at UFC 259, and that’s why the criticism of fans and fighters has Team Sterling angry and confused.
Mike Pendleton is a current contributor to MyMMANews, BJPenn.com, and TheScrap.Co while also hosting his “On The Mic” podcast and works as an Associate Producer on Sirius XM’s Fight Nation channel.
With a special passion for interviewing and talking to some of the very best around the fight game, you can read or listen to Mike’s work across his multiple outlets.
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