Anthony Smith Criticizes Ref In Aljamain Sterling Fight: ‘You Don’t Need Help Making The Decision’


Anthony Smith was frustrated by a number of things at UFC 259 this past weekend.

The major talking point, of course, was the illegal knee Aljamain Sterling suffered against Petr Yan in their bantamweight title fight. Sterling was criticized for overacting in the aftermath with the referee giving him as much time as possible to recover.

In the end, Sterling never got to his feet and the referee disqualified Yan with the former being crowned the new champion. Sterling has since received plenty of hate online, especially for posing with the belt after initially claiming he didn’t want to win it that way.

Smith is no stranger to receiving an illegal knee. He was on the receiving end of one against Jon Jones in their light heavyweight title fight in 2019. Unlike Sterling, however, Smith continued and ended up losing a unanimous decision.

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But despite that, he doesn’t get why Sterling has been receiving so much hate.

“First of all, I see all the Aljamain hate, I see all the bs. I hate it,” Smith said on Sirius XM (via Middle Easy). “I only hate it for one reason. It’s because I got a s**t ton of it when I continued to go on. Those exact same people are the same ones shitting on Aljo for not. So that’s frustrating.

“I don’t expect the same people to do some things that I do. I don’t expect people to live their life the way I live mine. It doesn’t matter how hurt I was. If I was unconscious I would’ve woke up and would’ve stood up and said I was fine to continue fighting because that’s who I am. I don’t expect people to do that. I put myself in terrible positions all the time.”

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Smith also took issue with the referee.

While the referee allowed Sterling plenty of time to decide whether he can continue, Smith believes the right decision to make was obvious.

“I am so sick of these refs wanting to pass the buck, and punt every single problem they have,” Smith explained. “You don’t need help making the decision. Especially from a fighter who was just fouled to their brain.

“Second, if we’re tasking these referees with the responsibility to know when fighters are hurt — to know when they can’t continue anymore, to stop the fight, in a legal fight-ending sequence — why does the legality of that shot matter? Because if Aljamain’s knee was one inch off of the mat, when he took that knee, Mark Smith would have stepped in and stopped that fight immediately.

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“Wouldn’t have even been any follow-up shots. Why does that change because that blow was illegal? If it was legal we would have stopped that fight and given Aljo a chance. Why are we gonna force him to continue because it was illegal?”

Smith certainly makes a good point.

Do you agree with him?