Current UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling is at the tail end of his recovery of both neck surgery and COVID-19, and is hoping to rematch newly-crowned interim titleholder Petr Yan at some point in March 2022.
That will give “Funk Master” an opportunity to silence all the “fake” fans who tried to clown him for winning the 135-pound by way of disqualification because technically, Sterling was already the uncrowned champ back in June 2020.
“Technically, (Cory) Sandhagen and I both had higher credible wins, should have been fighting for the vacant title anyway, and they gave it to the popularity contest between (Peter) Yan and (Jose) Aldo,” Sterling said on his latest podcast. “So technically we should have been fighting for the belt and I should have technically been the champion, and even the fans, before they tuned 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.”
After Henry Cejudo retired and vacated the bantamweight belt, the promotion gave Petr Yan and Jose Aldo the first crack at the unclaimed crown, while Sterling and Sandhagen were paired off to determine the division No. 1 contender.
The booking was not without its share of criticism. At the time, Sterling was ranked No. 2 in the bantamweight division, with Yan (No. 3) and Sandhagen (No. 4) right behind him. Aldo was seated just outside the Top 5 at No. 6 and coming off back-to-back losses.
Now Sterling will have a chance to prove his case in first quarter 2022.
“I’m hoping it’s gonna 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,” Sterling continued. “I’m already gearing up. I thought COVID was gonna slow me down more but I’m just excited to get back out there and compete. It’s gonna be a good one and the fans are gonna get their money’s worth and that’s all that matters to me. I wanna make money and I wanna shut these clowns up.”
Sterling and Yan first went to war at UFC 259 last March but an illegal knee from “No Mercy” sent “Funk Master” to the shadow realm, forcing a referee stoppage. Following the win, UFC fans blasted Sterling for calling himself the true champion.
“Sometimes I wanna be the old me, get ratchet and ghetto, and just say all kinds of shit that’s gonna get me in trouble,” Sterling said. “But I’m like dude, you built an image, and I’m nobody’s role model. I don’t want to be a role model. I’m a human being, I wanna live my life the way I wanna live my life. The funniest ones are the dudes who say ‘You’re not Top 15,’ I’m just like, ‘What? Really?’ That’s interesting, I guess I just cut the whole line. It is what it is man, the fight is gonna happen and I don’t wanna harp on it too much.”
Expect an announcement on this booking in the next couple of weeks, if not sooner.