Former UFC featherweight king turned bantamweight contender, Jose Aldo has defended the newly crowned 135lb champion, Aljamain Sterling, who picked up the belt in the most unusual way.

Sterling has faced a storm of criticism from Yan, other fighters, and fans alike. The first fighter in the promotion’s history to win a title due to a disqualification, Sterling has been called an ‘actor’ for how he responded to the fight-ending illegal knee. While some have come to his defense, Sterling remains the heel to most.

‘Funk Master’ has also faced criticism for his reluctance to rematch Yan who to many was on route to a successful first title defence before he threw the illegal strike in round four.

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“This guy is getting rewarded with a rematch, which I get is a big fight. But, it is like, we can just break the rules and nothing is ever going to happen to us,” Sterling recently said. “So I can just jump the octagon and nothing is ever going to happen to me. I can just go and fight another corner or push him after the bell and nothing is ever going to happen. It’s like, I feel like when you have rules for a reason. You kinda have to enforce them, or otherwise let’s just run them up. I feel like his ass should have been suspended or something. Pay me some money for an illegal foul that might take years off of my career.”

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Aldo told MMA Fighting, that despite what many may think, Sterling a “the legitimate champion.”

“I do consider him the champion,” Aldo said. “It wasn’t his fault. He didn’t throw the illegal strike or anything like that. Petr made a mistake and paid for his mistake. It’s more than fair, you can’t say [Sterling] is not the champion. It doesn’t matter if it’s by disqualification or not, rules are there to be followed. I do see him as the champion. If he felt [the knee] or not, only he can say, but I do see him as the legitimate champion.”

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Do you agree with Jose Aldo? Is Aljamain Sterling a legitimate UFC champion?

A lifelong fight fan from Liverpool, England who has been covering mixed martial arts (MMA) and boxing for several years. Follow @JordanEllisUK on Twitter for all the latest fight news, views, interviews and live event coverage.