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I have 14-plus sisters, I never victim-blamed - UFC champ Sterling clarifies Andrew Tate tweets

“I am on your side.”

UFC champion Aljamain Sterling poses for a photo with a fan at UFC X 2022 in Las Vegas in July.
UFC champion Aljamain Sterling poses for a photo with a fan at UFC X 2022 in Las Vegas in July.
Photo by Mike Kirschbaum/Zuffa LLC

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.

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.’

“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.