Makhachev is out longer, but Sterling gets interim belt threats? – Coach calls out UFC ‘fairness’

The UFC is being accused of being inconsistent in implementing its rules about champions defending their title.

By: Milan Ordoñez | 4 months ago
Makhachev is out longer, but Sterling gets interim belt threats? – Coach calls out UFC ‘fairness’

UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev last fought in February in a super fight against Alexander Volkanovski. The Dagestan-based fighter won the bout via a contested unanimous decision and is now waiting for his next fight date, which has yet to be specified. 

Meanwhile, bantamweight titleholder Aljamain Sterling has been booked for UFC 292 in August. “Funkmaster” just fought early this month against Henry Cejudo at UFC 288, and his camp has had an issue with the quick turnaround. 

Now, Sterling’s striking coach Ray Longo is calling out the organization for what he feels is an “inconsistency” in its fight bookings. 

Ray Longo calls out UFC

Speaking on the Anik & Florian podcast, Longo asserted that fairness and consistency is what he’s after. He also used Makhachev as his example. 

“I think it’s the inconsistency of, well, (Islam) Makhachev hasn’t fought in a year,” Longo said (quotes by MMA News). “Why are you forcing me to fight in two months? Like, that’s where I have a problem.”

Longo says he understands how the game goes and how the UFC runs things. But at the same time, if he wants the same thing applied across the board.  

“I like fairness, and I like the transparency of knowing everybody’s going the same thing. Like if Dana wanted to turn everybody around every two months, then that’s it, that’s what you signed up for. 

“These are their rules. It’s their company. He built it up. He gets to call the shots, but to do one thing one time and not the other time, I think that’s where it gets a little sticky for me.”

Other accusations of favoritism

The organization has recently been riddled with accusations of favoritism. TUF 31 aspirant Mitch Ramirez went on record and claimed he was removed from the show to give way for company superstar Conor McGregor. 

While “The Notorious” repeatedly denied the accusations, UFC president Dana White pretty much admitted to it. 

“I have no idea. Who gives a shit?” he said in response to McGregor’s TUF issue. “These stories that come out of these things… heard something earlier tonight, too. We’re working on all this stuff, and you’re trying to get guys to commit to coach… to do the coaching commitment. 

“Especially if you live in Ireland, yeah, Conor’s gonna get some things that he wants.”

The UFC responds to Sterling

Sterling has been adamant about a possible later date. However, the UFC seems dead set having a title fight for the event. 

“We’ll have somebody else fight, we’ll do somebody else for the interim title,” White said. “Don’t say you’re going to go out and fight and then start saying stuff like, ‘If my [body holds up].’ What’s the first thing that happened? As soon as I was at the [UFC Vegas 73] press conference, I was asked, ‘Is Aljamain Sterling really going to fight or not?’

Sean O’Malley says he plans to show up on fight night, with or without Sterling as his opponent. Former double-champion Henry Cejudo, on the other hand, offered to be a replacement fighter should the champion fail to show up.

From his end, the champion offered to speak with the boss on the phone to hash things out. But as of this posting, UFC 292’s headliner between Sterling and ’Malley will go as planned. It takes place on August 19th at the TD Garden in Boston. Set to co-headline the event is the return of Zhang Weili, who will defend her title against Amanda Lemos.

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About the author
Milan Ordoñez
Milan Ordoñez

Milan Ordoñez has been covering combat sports since 2012 and has been part of the Bloody Elbow staff since 2016. He’s also competed in amateur mixed martial arts and submission grappling tournaments.

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