It’s safe to say that, in every sport and every industry, the media splits opinions. When it comes to MMA, criticism of media narratives and coverage is no anomaly. If you listen to the manager of Priscila Cachoeira, the media was even to blame for the controversy surrounding his client’s seemingly blatant eye gauge against Gillian Robertson at UFC 269…
Some fans follow specific reporters and publications, listen to podcasts, subscribe to Substacks, etc. Others look down upon the idea that journalists who, by and large, have no fighting experience cover the sport of mixed martial arts.
When it comes to that split view, it’s pretty clear where one UFC titleholder sits.
During a recent lengthy interview uploaded to his YouTube channel, Sterling, who has held 135-pound gold since UFC 259 last March, made his negative view on the media abundantly clear, accusing its members of being over-opinionated when it comes to topics they “don’t even have the slightest clue” about.
“That’s my issue with media. Are you TMZ? Are you trying to be a journalist? What is your exact role? Are you trying to have an opinionated piece? Because if you’re reporting the media, report the news of what you see, but don’t give your opinion on what you think, because now you’re changing into something else,” suggested Sterling. “Now you’re painting a picture for other people, which is not supposed to be your role.
“Your role is to report the news of the sport that you’re covering. Unless I’ve got it completely wrong? So when you’re doing an article and then you’re trying to paint someone in something that you don’t even have the slightest clue or idea of what actually happened, before even getting the facts, you’re just making an observation,” added Sterling.
“Funk Master” went further by suggesting the media uses clickbait headlines in order to create misconceptions about certain subjects. While editorials and opinion-based pieces are common practice, Sterling simply asked of them, “Who gives a sh*t?”
“People talk about Joe Rogan and his platform, they talk about me and my platform, they talk about other athletes and their platform, so what the f*ck are you doing with your platform if you’re allowed to create a misconception and change people’s point of view by using these clickbait headlines and not giving the facts?
“That annoys me. At the end of the day, the media is the media,” continued Sterling. “They’re just supposed to report on what they see at the events. Other than that, who gives a sh*t about your f*cking opinions? That’s the way I truly do feel about them.”
This is not the first time Sterling has shown a level of animosity for MMA journalists. Earlier this year, the New York native slammed ESPN’s ranking committee, comprising Brett Okamoto, Marc Raimondi, Mike Coppinger, Jeff Wagenheim, and Carlos Contreras Legaspi, for including arch-rival Yan in the publication’s pound-for-pound list over him.
His branding of the committee as a “joke” seemed to suggest his omission added to a lack of respect he feels from the media.
It would appear Sterling’s gripe and decision to tarnish media members with the same brush derives from the coverage of his championship crowning last year.
At UFC 259, “Funk Master” challenged for then-champ Petr Yan‘s belt inside the UFC Apex. In a fight he appeared to be on his way to losing on the scorecards, Sterling left the Octagon with the gold after being struck with an illegal knee in the fourth round.
While many fans have wrongly doubted Sterling’s abilities and delegitimized his reign, the 32-year-old believes a narrative spread by the media surrounding a level of pretense in his reaction to the illegal strike is to blame. That’s despite many notable reporters calling out the ‘disrespect’ shown to the bantamweight kingpin ahead of his first defense this weekend.
“I think (it’s all of them). Ariel (Helwani), all of ’em. Every single one of them. Every single one of them that does that… What they’re missing is context. It’s literally that simple… Report the context of what happened. Don’t report what you think… That’s the worst part, when they make it sound like I legitimately faked this (UFC 259 concussion) because they’re now officially doctors.”
Sterling will certainly remain in the headlines for the foreseeable future, with his highly anticipated rematch with Yan on the horizon. The pair will collide in a title unification clash in the UFC 273 co-main event this Saturday, April 9.
Do you agree with Aljamain Sterling’s take on the MMA media?