Aljamain Sterling eager to ‘shut these clowns up’ by beating Petr Yan in rematch

UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling is ready to defend his title in the first quarter of 2022.

Almost 100 percent after neck surgery and a second contraction of COVID-19, Sterling (20-3 MMA, 12-3 UFC) hasn’t competed since capturing the title from Petr Yan at UFC 259 in March.

The pair were expected to run things back at UFC 267 in October, but Sterling was not fully recovered yet, prompting the promotion to create an interim bantamweight title fight between Yan (16-2 MMA, 8-1 UFC) and Cory Sandhagen.

Yan defeated Sandhagen to claim the interim title and Sterling hopes to unify his belt with his arch rival in March 2022. Tired of critics who have slammed him for allegedly milking the illegal knee that disqualified Yan and won him the title, Sterling can’t wait to silence all the doubters.

“I had an off night against a tough dude,” Sterling said on his YouTube channel. “We’re going to run it back, so that’s all that matters. I’m hoping it’s going to be on that March card. We’ll see what happens. I know Sean (Shelby) said February, March, April. April’s just so far. March would be ideal. I’m already gearing up.

“I thought COVID was going to slow me down a lot more, but the way I felt the last three days, I’m definitely sore because that is quite a grind in a short amount of time after not having any type of activity. … I’m just excited to get back out there and compete. It’s going to be a good one and the fans are going to get their money’s worth, and that’s all that matters to me. I want to make money and I want to just shut these clowns up.”

Sterling has received regular criticism from some fans since becoming champion and posing for pictures with the belt on his shoulder, but “The Funkmaster” thinks it’s unfair that his prior achievements have been devalued.

Going into his title fight against Yan, Sterling had won five straight, including a quick submission of Sandhagen, which he felt should have been the original bantamweight title fight after Henry Cejudo vacated his belt.

“Technically, Sandhagen and I both had higher credible wins, should have been fighting for the vacant title anywa,y and they gave it to the popularity contest of Yan and (Jose) Aldo,” Sterling said. “So technically, we should have been fighting for the belt and I should have technically been the champion. And even the fans, before they turned their back, the fake ones, were saying that was the real title fight. Then all of the sudden I’m the fake champ. I don’t get it. I should have been the champion to begin with.”

Original article: https://mmajunkie.usatoday.com/2021/12/aljamain-sterling-wants-to-shut-up-clowns-beat-petr-yan-rematch-ufc

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