Aljamain Sterling is ready to finally settle his feud with Petr Yan at UFC 273.
“It’s been a long time,” Sterling said Wednesday on The MMA Hour. It’s hard to see the light at the end. I want to be able to work towards something.
The two men previously fought at UFC 259, where Sterling won the title when Yan was disqualified for throwing an illegal knee to the head of a downed opponent in the fourth round. They were then scheduled for a rematch at UFC 267, but Sterling was forced out due to lingering issues with a neck surgery, and so Yan instead faced Cory Sandhagen for an interim title. On April 9, the two will face off in a title unifier.
After waiting more than one year, Sterling has had enough of the delays.
“That part was the worst. He continued, “It was like Yan did not pull out from the fight we had.” “Literally [he] left the fight due to personal reasons. I don’t know what that means. But I’m not ready because of a surgery that I wasn’t even cleared for to start training yet, and then I’m dubbed the bad guy. Strange how some people spin things so easily, and others could fall for any .”
Sterling, though, hasn’t just been catching flak for the delays to the rematch. The manner in which he took the title, winning by disqualification, has been a constant source of criticism. Yan spent the majority of his time mocking his opponent as “a fake champion” and an “actor.”
While Sterling mostly ignores the criticisms as they loom, “The Funk Master”, insisting that Mark Smith’s decision not to disqualify Yan is justified, saying Yan’s now-interim champion’s famous knee was an intentional dirty shot due to frustration.
“There’s rules that we get in the back room, there’s rules that we know going into the sport,” Sterling said. “We agree upon them. “We agree upon them. You return to the same position and wait for six seconds. The ref then tells you that your opponent is downed.
The guy isn’t looking so you make an illegal kick six seconds later. You’re already winning the fight. Why not let the guy up? This is all that I ask people to grasp. You’re so powerful, why not just let him go? That makes sense. The guy was frustrated, he thought he was gonna get away with one, and that’s really what it comes down to. He thought he was gonna be able to do more damage and make it an illegal strike and get away with it, and thankfully the ref and the doctor saved me from myself.”
For many, the issue really boils down to the fact that Yan was winning the bout before landing the illegal knee, something Sterling even admits. But, Sterling believes that even though Yan was winning, he was getting frustrated as his inability to finish the fight, and that as a result, Smith did the right thing.
“Frustration,” Sterling said. “You’ve got this guy who’s a zombie, a guy who’s got no power on his punches … . He’s going nowhere. He lands two head kicks before he tries to shoot and get me down to the ground again. He seems annoyed. I think he’s frustrated. He thinks, “You know what? Screw this guy.” I’m gonna throw this strike because one of my cornermen told me to throw punches, the other guy tells me to throw a kick, and I’m too dumb to move my hands to see where his knees are, so I’m just gonna throw an illegal strike.’ You have to make it make sense, so which one is it? Am I the actor is is this guy a piece of s***? Or is it both? But whatever, at the end of the day, I’m just glad that the ref did the right thing.
“And any other refs that claim it was poorly handled or former-refs who used to believe it was, you are responsible for the problems in the sport. You guys don’t want to take a point off and you won’t want to disqualify anyone for doing anything in the sport. Yeah we’re fighting, but if we’re gonna fight and abide by rules, let’s abide by the goddamn rules. Let’s have a street battle and then figure out how to get it done in the f ****** restroom! This s***’s so stupid. This is the one thing that bothers me the most.
Sterling won’t have to deal with all the talk much longer though. In less than two weeks he will finally get his chance to shut Yan up for good. He also said that if Yan wins, everyone else who had been talking trash about him over the last year should be ready to share in his pain.
” It is what it was,” Sterling stated. Sterling said that people can speak what they like, have their opinions and we will figure it out within a few days. “It is what it is,” Sterling stated. It was the same as how I dealt with it for over a year. I could not train so I couldn’t do much. Alright, let’s see what that feels like.