Aljamain Sterling will wake up Monday morning as the UFC’s newest bantamweight champion but the manner of the win has caused some to question the validity of his title reign.
Sterling was awarded the victory against Petr Yan at last weekend’s UFC 259 event after the Russian landed a blatantly illegal knee to Sterling’s temple in the fourth-round. Despite being down on the scorecards at the time, Sterling was deemed unable to continue and was awarded the win — and the title — by disqualification.
Yan, though, was clearly non-plussed by the decision despite being the fighter responsible for throwing the illegal shot and wrote online that he was “glad” that Sterling had recovered from the shot in response to photographs which appeared online of the New Yorker celebrating his victory with teammates Al Iaquinta and Merab Dvalishvili.
Glad to see champ is fine now… https://t.co/0PgQS1dYdy
— Petr “No Mercy” Yan (@PetrYanUFC) March 7, 2021
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However, noting the controversy online Sterling said that he didn’t win the title in the manner in which he had envisioned — but noted that he wasn’t the fighter who used an illegal technique in the bout.
“I didn’t win the UFC belt the way I envisioned it, but I also didn’t do anything illegal,” he wrote. “My friends and family flew miles to come see me and asked me to hoist the belt up as a champion, because I carried myself as such.
“If that offends you, then you have no love in your life, and your own issues to sort out. I’m the “champ” but I won’t personally feel 100% validation until I defend this the way I envisioned winning it in the first place!
“Either way, I can’t wait to be cleared. The future is bright and I can’t wait to see what is in store for me. Stay the course. Make adjustments. Life. Moves. On.”
Dana White indicated in the post-fight press conference that the UFC will book a rematch between the two as soon as possible. Until then, though, you can expect these social media back-and-forths to amp up considerably.