Aljamain Sterling is Still Dealing with Online Trolls Regarding His UFC Title Win: ‘There Was No Acting Involved’

Two years later, Aljamain Sterling is still defending himself from online skeptics following his UFC 259 title win by way of DQ.

Aljamain Sterling
Courtesy of @ESPNMMA on Twitter

Aljamain Sterling is still dealing with fans trolling him on social media over his controversial bantamweight title win at UFC 259

On Saturday night, ‘Funk Master’ will once again put his 135-pound crown on the line as he meets former two-division titleholder and Olympic gold medalist, Henry Cejudo. The two men will headline the promotion’s return to New Jersey for UFC 288, emanating from the Prudential Center in Newark. 

Days away from his third UFC title defense, Sterling appeared on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani to discuss his upcoming showdown with ‘Triple C’ and to address his status as one of the least respected champions in the sport. Despite being on an eight-fight win streak dating back to 2018, ‘Funk Master’ has seemingly been left out of the conversations when looking at the pound-for-pound best fighters in the world today. Much of that has to do with the controversial nature of his UFC title win two years ago.

Squaring off with then-champion Petr Yan at UFC 259, Aljamain Sterling was the recipient of an illegal knee late in the fourth round of the title fight. Unable to continue, the bout was waved off and Yan was disqualified, making Sterling the first fighter in UFC history to become a champion by way of DQ. Fans immediately accused Sterling of embellishing his injury, suggesting he was competing for an Academy Award on top of a UFC championship that night. 

Speaking with Ariel Helwani, Sterling revealed that he still gets accused of exaggerating the blow he suffered that night on social media. 

“I hope this is the last time I ever have to talk about this. I’ve watched a video of how they say, ‘Oh, you were rolling around and acting.’ Dude, I didn’t know there was a rule book of how you’re supposed to act when you get crushed to the skull with a knee that you won’t see whatsoever,” Sterling said. “And even watching it I go, ‘Yeah, I can see why people are saying you’re acting,’ but I’m telling you dude, there was no acting involved in that. 

“I look at it and I go, ‘That looks kind of weird. I can see why people would say yeah, he’s acting. He played it up,’ but trust me. I wish I could see how I look because I would have told myself, ‘Look cool, look tough. You don’t want to look like you’re being soft on international TV,’ but unfortunately, we get hit and you’re exhausted. I guess that’s what it looks like.”

Aljamain Sterling Doesn’t Pay As Much Attention to His Online Critics as He Used To

Little more than a year removed from their first meeting, Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan met once again at UFC 273 to determine who truly was the undisputed bantamweight world champion. After five grueling rounds, ‘Funk Master’ emerged victorious, scoring a closely contested split decision. Still, that wasn’t enough to quiet his skeptics online.

The split decision victory against Yan followed by a win over a pre-injured T.J. Dillashaw at UFC 280 did him no favors with fans. 

“People will still say I won the belt… They’re judging my career and I guess we could nitpick at every single thing because I could nitpick everything Cejudo’s done on his title run. It’s one of those unforgiving things about this sport. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with it. And I respect everyone’s opinion. Doesn’t mean that you’re correct.

“But the ones that do understand what it’s like or have an idea if they actually train and know what that feels like to get crushed like that while being blindsided on top of it, but yeah. I still get a lot of people in the comments. I don’t read them as much as I did before. I don’t know why. Maybe because I’m doing more content. It’s kind of hard to sift through everything, but even now, occasionally I get to check and just see what people are saying. It’s good to know what’s up and where you stand with things.”

Published on May 1, 2023 at 7:26 pm
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