Knockouts can be among the most polarizing moments in combat sports. What could be described as a beautiful and innovative expression of the capabilities of the human body becomes pitted directly against the extreme violence of an athlete on the receiving end of a concussion, and loss of consciousness. Videos of the moment can become highlights that live on well past a fighter’s career, and fuel for opposition, who see fighting as a barbaric throwback to a more brutish past.
And it’s not just fans that have to grapple with that reality, it’s something that fighters must reckon with as well. And to that end, Aljamain Sterling is looking for a little more humane approach from the UFC.
Sterling was recently on the wrong end of a terrifying KO, the result of a well timed knee by opponent Marlon Moraes at UFC Fresno: Swanson vs. Ortega. The knee sent Aljo crashing to the canvas just over a minute into the first round. Even Moraes was worried for Sterling’s safety in the aftermath. Sterling was eventually stretchered out of the Octagon, and that’s the point where he feels the UFC could have done a better job (transcript via MMA Fighting).
“I enjoy being a part of the UFC, of course,” Sterling said in a recent interview with the MMA Hour, “but I definitely think they could have done a lot better with updating the fans and everybody else. Especially, we have loved ones back home, so I had people trying to call me, trying to reach me, they couldn’t get in touch with me, obviously I was still delirious, delusional. Had no service, so the least they could have done was get a follow-up report and get something out for the press or something at least for the people who are actively checking and wanted to really know, who are actually really concerned about how I was doing, and to actually have some piece of mind and to know what was going on.
“Not for nothing, I’ve been getting along a lot better with Sean Shelby and even Dana White himself, obviously it’s a business relationship so I don’t expect these guys to be my friends or my best friends, I don’t look at it like that. But at least a text message to say, ‘Just checking to see if you’re doing OK. Making sure you’re alive.’ I think that’s common courtesy. I’m technically one of your employees, no matter if you want to call it self-employed, I’m still one of your employees. If you were my boss and I didn’t like you, I’m still going to check on your well-being, that’s just how I am, but from a human being standpoint I think that would have been a cool thing to wake up to.”
“The Funk Master” also admitted that he’s watched the replay of his KO more than a few times since it happened. And while he may have his qualms with a lack of communication from his bosses, the experience doesn’t seem to have dampened his resolve. “You just take your hits on the chin and move on, that’s life. I’ve been knocked down a few times in my life and it’s nothing different.”