Either Aljamain Sterling is trying to wind Petr Yan up, or ‘Funk Master’ is looking to avoid a rematch with the Russian altogether.
Sterling became the first fighter in UFC history to win a title by disqualification after being hit with an illegal knee by Yan in the fourth round of their bantamweight title bout at UFC 259.
Just about everyone in the MMA sphere — including Yan — agrees that there should be an immediate rematch but Sterling thinks the UFC needs to make an example of ‘No Mercy’, who was winning the fight until the DQ.
“Any other sport when you do something intentionally illegal you get suspended, you get fined, you get ejected from the game. This guy is getting rewarded with a rematch, which I get is a big fight,” Sterling said at a UFC 260 media scrum (h/t BJPenn.com). “But, it is like, we can just break the rules and nothing is ever going to happen to us. I can just jump the Octagon and nothing is going to happen, I can 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 and you have to enforce them or otherwise let’s just run it up.”
If Sterling was comfortably winning the fight, he might have a point. But the fact is, he was behind on the judges’ scorecards and should, in principle, want to run it back with Yan. The 31-year-old has instead teased of a title bout with former UFC two-division champion Henry Cejudo, who is currently retired.