The UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling recently tweeted photos with Andrew Tate, a former kickboxer and influencer that was banned from all social media platforms for violating policies on hate speech. Apart from being accused of “extreme misogyny” and saying things like rape victims “must bare some responsibility,” Tate is also currently being investigated for allegations of human trafficking and rape, which he denies.
In several follow up tweets, Sterling defended the disgraced influencer and went on to share his views on rape in several tweets. These got the UFC champion criticized and accused of victim-blaming.
You know that shit is fake right? The information is literally out there or y’all can keep listening to the painted narrative that’s much easier to digest. I dug into and was relieved that they aren’t actually shit people. And no, not everything they’ve said, I agree with. https://t.co/WwRvnuwEQf— Aljamain Sterling (@funkmasterMMA) October 16, 2022
We can go back n forth with “full” length videos to discredit this, although I agree some things tow the line until you listen in its entirety to hear the full statement. But I really don’t care that much haha.— Aljamain Sterling (@funkmasterMMA) October 16, 2022
If you want him as the bad guy, the content is there and vice versa https://t.co/jfRNfEpwuJ
Brother, I don’t care all that much in all honestly haha. But the guys banned from all social media platforms, so yea there’s a narrative there as well. I’m not spending hrs of my life consuming Tate bros or anyone’s content to learn about them. Im busy living n chasing my goals— Aljamain Sterling (@funkmasterMMA) October 16, 2022
Yes exactly. So by this you agree that there are dangerous, perverted and sick ppl out there, correct? So why encourage men, females, and kids to put themselves in harms way because we hope ppl do the right thing? You missed the point.— Aljamain Sterling (@funkmasterMMA) October 16, 2022
Sick ppl are sick ppl man. That’s all. https://t.co/RgfTnnP5C3
It is 100% the man or woman’s fault raping people, not the victim of the rape. I’ve said this. Just wanted to correct you on that, as well as the 50-100 more people that will say the same thing, and just ignore that one key point I said, just to pile all something misunderstood— Aljamain Sterling (@funkmasterMMA) October 16, 2022
Sterling got the chance to clarify his tweet during the UFC 280 media day on Wednesday.
“So I quote-tweeted somebody that said what everybody else was saying that they were coming down on me for and I was agreeing with the tweet,” Sterling said (quotes via MMA Fighting). “And I said, ‘You’re right. I 100 percent agree with you that Andrew Tate should not ever say it is the responsibility of a victim.’
100% correct. Also said was, with all the mental health issues, and predators out there, why walk home by yourself at odd hours of the night, in sketchy places?— Aljamain Sterling (@funkmasterMMA) October 16, 2022
That was the responsibility he mentioned for making safe decisions, which makes sense, although doesn’t justify rape https://t.co/kAuC0QsPzp
“So people that were coming at me were completely wrong and I was trying to explain that you misread the tweet and then they would show me the same tweet and I would say you’re not understanding what I’m saying.
“You’re misreading the tweet because I’m quoting and I’m agreeing. I am on your side.”
Sterling further denied victim-blaming, pointing out the strong female presence in his life and seeing the world as an African-American.
“I have 14-plus sisters. I love my mom. I would never tell my mom that if anything like that happened to them that ‘It’s your fault.’ That’s just the craziest thing to ever say to anybody.
“That’s like if you’re in the hood, and you’re walking down a nice neighborhood or something and you’re a person of color and you get shot because you have a hoodie on, I’m telling you it’s your fault because you’re walking down the street.
“That doesn’t even make any sense. Why would I ever blame the victim? It’s the person that’s not taking the time to understand.”
Sterling further argued his point, saying he should be allowed to express his opinions.
“For us to be athletes and people admire us and things like that or look up to us, we’re role models, or this, that, and a third, or they want us to sponsor or endorse us. Why have us do all that and then try to tell us we can’t have an opinion? Are we not people too?
“So you don’t have to agree with everything that I say, but you can respect it. I don’t have to agree with everything you say, but I can respect it. I can respect your choice. It’s your body, your choice, you want to do things that you want to do the way you want to do them.
“I’m not going to tell you that you’re wrong and I think that’s the issue. If you’re trying to tell athletes that we shouldn’t interact or we shouldn’t give opinions on things, then what kind of world would that be? That would be so boring, especially for us.”
Sterling will defend his title for the second time at UFC 280 this weekend in Abu Dhabi against former champion T.J. Dillashaw. It will be the co-main event fight right behind the vacant lightweight championship between Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev.