Since capturing the bantamweight strap just over a year ago, Sterling has faced merciless criticism from fans and pundits alike. That he was gifted the title thanks to Yan’s illegal knee, and the manner in which Sterling appeared to exaggerate injury, has many believing he’s an unworthy champion.
The 32-year-old received mocking praise for what many deemed his Oscar-worthy acting, and some have also questioned the convenient timing of his neck surgery, which forced him to pull out of his rematch with Yan in September last year.
In the last year, Sterling has fired back at his doubters with relish, dismissing them as “nuts” and bemoaning MMA at large as a popularity contest that has failed to recognize his accomplishments. And if he’s successful against Yan, the “Funk Master” has vowed to unashamedly “shove it up everyone’s asses.”
Sterling Vows To Stick It To Haters By Defeating Yan
Sterling will not only be looking forward to proving his haters wrong in his rematch tonight. As a +355 underdog against the -545 favorite Yan, the “Funk Master” will also be looking to upset the bookmakers, too. And speaking to the press at UFC 273 media day, Aljamain said he’s more than relishing the prospect of silencing all his doubters.
“What are people gonna say? What are people gonna say if and when I smoke this guy?” Sterling asked the media.
After shouldering the weight of widespread criticism for over a year, Aljamain could be forgiven for holding a personal grudge against much of MMA’s fandom. But is he also driven by the more wholesome need to prove himself right, rather than simply the haters wrong?
“A little bit of both,” said Sterling. “It’s a little sweet to kinda stick it to people a little bit, kinda rub it in their faces. People did it to me, and when I do it back, I just hope people can take it the same way I had to take it for 13 months.”
What do you think? Will Aljamain Sterling silence his haters by defeating Petr Yan?