Aljamain Sterling: ‘I Won By Default. I Don’t Feel Like A Champ’

Aljamain Sterling

UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling is not happy with his DQ win against Petr Yan.

‘The Funkmaster’ won the 135lb strap after Yan threw and landed an illegal knee that ended the fight.

Prior to that the Russian seemed to be on his way to making a successful first defence of his title.

Sterling was initially reluctant to accept the belt but was later pictured with it over his shoulder as he celebrated with family and friends, something which sparked an angry reaction from the former champ.

During a recent interview with MMA Junkie, Sterling said he doesn’t feel like a champion and did not celebrate winning the belt.

“I didn’t post a single picture of me celebrating like I won anything,” Sterling said. “I won by default. I don’t feel like a champ. I didn’t post anything for that specific reason. Normally, after every fight, I post something. I post something in celebration of what happened. I made a post of me being out with my fiancee. Not me having the belt because the people put it on my shoulder like, ‘You deserve this. No, you deserve it. Put it on. Put it on.’ I didn’t want that. They flew all the way here. They paid their money. They came to the house. They gave me support. If they want to do that, OK, I understand it. I can’t tell them to put their phones away and not post anything if they want to post.”

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Sterling says he for the most part stayed away from alcohol after taking a concussive knee from Yan.

“I didn’t drink,” Sterling said. “I had a sip of a champagne. I had a toast and said pretty much, ‘I’m sorry I let everyone down. I know you guys are still proud of me and I will validate the belt when I get this rematch. Hopefully, the next one I feel a lot better. I felt off. I’m sorry and I know you guys know my trainings are way more intense than my fight and we will get the next one. Just thank you guys for all coming out.’ I took a sip, I didn’t drink for the rest of the night. A couple hours later, I threw up. That’s my celebration for everyone who says I was out there, ra-ra-ing.”

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The 31-year-old is now intent on proving he can keep the pace for five rounds and beat Yan in a highly anticipated rematch.

“In terms of my mind and how things went, I don’t feel like the champ,” Sterling said. “That’s the motivation right there, to show the world I can keep that pace for 25 minutes. … I’m always going to try to find a way when there is time on that clock. I think the fans definitely would (recognize that) or maybe they do, maybe they don’t. Maybe they’d appreciate that in terms of my tenacity and how I come to the octagon. I plan on coming out of the gate the same exact way, so I hope he’s ready for that. He better be ready for that.”

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Do you believe Aljamain Sterling is the “real” bantamweight champion?