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Dana White issues Aljamain Sterling an ultimatum: ‘If you’re not healthy, don’t fight Sean O’Malley’

White refutes the idea that he’s been disrespectful to his Bantamweight champion as Sterling (probably) heads into another title defense in Boston.

UFC 259: Yan v Sterling Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Dana White continues to be baffled by accusations that he’s treating UFC Bantamweight champion, Aljamain Sterling, poorly.

Sterling just fought at UFC 288 earlier this month, and immediately after the win, UFC started pushing for him to fight Sean O’Malley at UFC 292 in Boston, Mass., on Aug. 19, 2023. That 3.5 months ... not much time for a champion to rest and reset, especially when he’s banged up from fighting three times in 13 months.

Sterling suggested September would work better for him. He’s shared a laundry list of injuries he’d like time to heal. And now he’s upset that White is bashing him in the press. But, somewhere along the line, “Funkmaster” apparently told White he’d fight in Boston ... and White is holding him to his word.

In the latest back-and-forth between the promoter and his champion, White dismissed accusations that he’s treating Sterling poorly throughout their interactions surrounding the “Beantown” brawl.

“I’m not the one that went out and said, ‘If my body holds up,’ when I’m promoting a fight,” White told FanSided. “If you’re not healthy, don’t take the fight. We’ll have somebody else fight, we’ll do somebody else for the interim title.

“Don’t say you’re going to go out and fight and then start saying stuff like, ‘If my [body holds up],’” White continued. “What’s the first thing that happened? As soon as I was at the press conference, I was asked, ‘Is Aljamain Sterling really going to fight or not?’ Is that what you want the fans thinking? How is that me not giving him credit?”

White once again made it clear that Henry Cejudo is ready to jump into the August gig and fight O’Malley for the interim 135-pound belt.

“I was home working out, minding my own business when my phone starts blowing up and Henry Cejudo is calling me, saying, ‘I’ll take the fight, I’ll take the fight,’” White said. “I’m like, ‘Why? Is Aljo out?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, he’s already making excuses, saying if his body holds up and this other stuff.’”

“‘Just give me the fight, we’ll fight for the interim, blah, blah, blah, blah blah’” White continued. “Then I walk into the press conference and one of the first questions that asked to me is, ‘Is Aljamain still fighting?’ How am I not giving him credit? Ridiculous.”

What’s ridiculous is this endless sniping through the media. Sterling is right: White shouldn’t be pulling a heavy on him in the press to try and pressure him into accepting the August date. But, White has a point, too: if Sterling has said he’d fight at Boston, then he shouldn’t be suggesting he won’t.

If he can’t, then let UFC know.

For more on the upcoming UFC 292 pay-per-view (PPV) event click here.

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