Aljamain Sterling calls out top UFC referee for ‘always smirking’ during fights

Aljamain Sterling did a great job of shutting up the haters last time out. At UFC 273 he earned a split decision to defeat Petr…

By: Tim Bissell | 2 years
Aljamain Sterling calls out top UFC referee for ‘always smirking’ during fights
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

Aljamain Sterling did a great job of shutting up the haters last time out. At UFC 273 he earned a split decision to defeat Petr Yan and defend/unify the UFC bantamweight title. Many, including Yan, had questioned Sterling’s previous title win (which came after Yan was disqualified for landing an illegal knee).

Sterling’s second win over Yan extended his winning streak to seven fights and his overall record to 21-3. Next up for Sterling is a title defence against former champion T.J. Dillashaw at UFC 280 on October 22.

Alongside training for the big fight, Sterling has found time to produce content for his YouTube channel. In a recent upload Sterling shared some remarks on well-known MMA referee Dan Miragliotta. And it seems fair to say that ‘Funk Master’ doesn’t want ‘Tan Dan’ anywhere near his fight with Dillashaw.

“If you look at (Miragliotta), when he’s refereeing he’s always got this, like, smirk that kind of seems, like, I don’t want to say condescending, but it’s almost, like, patronizing,” said Sterling (ht MMA News). “I don’t know, I don’t know. I just feel like that smirk… I just don’t like he always has on this… Like, he’ll stop the fight and he’s kind of like ‘Yeah, buddy you got fucked up.’”

Referees getting bashed by fighters (figuratively) is nothing new. Miragliotta has received his fair share of feedback over the years. In 2019 Michael ‘Venom’ Page took Miragliotta to task for calling him “a piece of shit” after his first round KO at Bellator 227.

Miragliotta has also had to deal with criticism from Dana White (like most other referees do). Most recently, White slammed Miragliotta for what he deemed to be an early stoppage at UFC 277 and the fight between Derrick Lewis and Sergei Pavlovich.

Sterling has never drawn Miragliotta for one of his fights. So his observations of Miragliotta’s smirking must have been from either cageside or on television. Either way, Sterling seems eager to continue his streak of never sharing the Octagon with him.

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About the author
Tim Bissell
Tim Bissell

Tim Bissell is a writer, editor and deputy site manager for Bloody Elbow. He has covered combat sports since 2015, but has been watching since the early 2000s. Tim covers news and events and has also written longform and investigative pieces. Among Tim's specialties are the intersections between crime and combat sports. Tim has also covered head trauma, concussions and CTE in great detail.

Tim is also BE's lead (only) sumo reporter. He blogs about that sport here and on his own substack, Sumo Stomp!

Tim is currently a social worker in training.

Email me at [email protected]. Nice messages will get a response.

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