Aljamain Sterling, UFC: “Looking for a last chance of someone” who can defeat me


Aljamain Sterling isn’t sure if the UFC wants to see him at the top.

“Funkmaster” retained his bantamweight title — and his No. 1 spot in the MMA Fighting Global Rankings — with a dominant second-round TKO of T.J. Dillashaw at UFC 280 this past Saturday, but after the definitive finish there was no clear answer as to who Sterling might fight next.

The bantamweight division has many contenders. Sean O’Malley seemed to be focusing on a title shot. However, it is unlikely that Sugar will get the call after his close win against Petr Yan. At the evening’s post-fight press conference, UFC President Dana White seemed more interested in bringing back former two-division UFC champion and Olympic gold medalist Henry Cejudo to challenge Sterling.

Sterling addressed the odd suggestion during an appearance on The MMA Hour on Monday.

” I love Dana personally, outside of everything and the cameras,” Sterling stated. Some of his actual words are sometimes beyond my comprehension. You go on record, you say whoever wins [the O’Malley-Yan] fight is clearly getting the No. 1 shot because it makes sense. Everything changes after the fight and you add Henry “Cedoodoo” to the mix. I am completely lost because this man has not fought for over two years. You don’t want to give him a [featherweight] title shot to go be triple champ, which I’m not opposed to because I think if anyone deserves it based on merit, it’s him. I’m not a hater by any means. But then the guy comes back after two years, fought at 125, fought twice maybe at ’35, and he’s supposed to come back and get an immediate title shot after doing what?

” Now it feels almost like, and I may be wrong–they are looking for someone to take out Aljamain sterling. They’re hoping that they can make this narrative of the Olympic wrestling now. D-1 wasn’t good enough, now the Olympic wrestling might be good enough to take out the D-3 wrestler. But I can tell you one thing for certain, this ass-whooping is an equal opportunity employer. All races, all colours can get it. You don’t have to care about it. If it’s Henry, if it’s ‘Chito’ [Marlon Vera] from Ecuador, if it’s O’Malley with the colorful hair, Mr. Sugar T***, if it’s a rematch with Yan because we know the UFC likes to give title shots to people coming off of losses, if they want to give it to [Cory] Sandhagen, there’s plenty of options.”

Sterling is a controversial champion. His unimpeachable record, which includes victories over Dillashaw and Yan among others, contrasted with a series of results (a win over Yan that made him champion, a close split decision win in the rematch and Dillashaw being clearly compromised by an injury to his shoulder) that hasn’t always pleased the masses.

When asked who he’d rather fight, Sterling said he was interested in O’Malley. However, he’s not sure what impact O’Malley’s reaction to the incident and subsequent reactions will have on matchmakers.

” If I am being truthful, I haven’t even considered it,” Sterling stated. “I literally tweeted to O’Malley that I would have actually hung out with the guy. Yan was wrong, I feel bad. O’Malley seemed shocked by the fact that Yan had been robbed. I think it kind of caught him off-guard, that was a split decision, I think it caught him even more off-guard that he won.

“Now he knows what it feels like when I was in the same position [with Yan] and the difference is I actually knew I won the fight and he’s on the side where he won the fight and he doesn’t even know if he really won the fight until he goes back and watches it. While I was certain, from the strike count that I had won the fight; this division is still the most competitive. I will be discredit .”


Sterling agrees that O’Malley did what was necessary to be the No. 1 contender, including building his brand so as to better sell a potential championship fight.

” I think O’Malley is the greatest fight, in terms both of name value and performance, if there’s one,” Sterling stated. “I think he saw what I did to T.J., he saw what I did to Yan and any of these previous opponents that were in the top five, top 10. Remember, my third UFC fight I fought the No. 6 guy ranked in the world and since then I haven’t fought anyone that was unranked. My resume speaks for itself.

” These guys are the ones who catch me at bantamweight. They fought men with losing records. I never did any of that. No shortcuts, no handouts, so if you can’t respect that then you don’t respect the game.”

Circling back to the Cejudo talk, Sterling doesn’t view it as his No. 1 option with so many other active fighters in the 135-pound division nipping at his heels. He broke down the pros and cons of each matchup, singling out Marlon Vera for the unexpected beef that has developed between them.

” I feel that no one is interested in the Henry Cejudo fight except the hardcores,” Sterling stated. “I feel like if you want to talk about dollar signs, it’s O’Malley. If you want to talk about legacy, it’s Petr Yan. Sandhagen is the best choice if you are looking for a fascinating fight. I beat him very quickly and may have been fortunate.

“Chito’s a weird one. We were kind of cordial and cool before this whole weird thing happened between us because someone asked me about the O’Malley [vs. Vera] fight and I said it was a weird thing, but Chito threw the kick and I said he won. It was a flukey thing that happened in terms of the reaction, but Chito won, and he took that as disrespect and the guy started going off like he was butthurt. It would have been like somebody was grabbing his a** and getting very defensive. … I’m here to compete against the best in the world and if Chito’s the guy that they think is going to be the guy to beat me, I think I do the same exact thing to him as well. He might have a little bit better jiu-jitsu [than Dillashaw], he might have two arms, but I think we can all agree if I take you down it’s literally a problem.”