UFC champion says fighting for the promotion is like having an estranged father

For this UFC champion, fighting for the organization is comparable to his relationship with his estranged father.

By: Milan Ordoñez | 3 months ago

UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling has been at odds with the organization as of late. “Funkmaster,” in particular, isn’t a fan of what he feels is blatant disrespect towards him by company president Dana White. 

Sterling was a recent guest on the BS w/ Jake Paul podcast where he touched on a few things, including his relationship with his estranged father and how it is comparable to his approach to fighting for the UFC

Aljamain Sterling on fighting for the UFC

Sterling came to his conclusion when he looked back on his two fights with former champion Petr Yan. He felt the UFC built up ‘No Mercy’ so much, even if it didn’t make sense. 

“I felt like the UFC had him as this f–ng golden goose that was gonna make all these eggs for them,” Sterling said (quotes by MMA Fighting). “And I don’t know, I was like, ‘Dude, he’s not as good as you guys think.’”

Sterling admitted being bothered by the UFC push on Yan, but more because of his internal issues, specifically those rooted to his relationship with his estranged father. 

“I almost feel like maybe the UFC is almost like my pappy, you know. So I look at them like my dad, where I almost feel like I need to prove something to pops, to be like, ‘Oh yeah, you think this, ‘I’m gonna show you motherf–r,’ for me.”

Sterling motivated by desire to prove himself

For Sterling, that burning desire to prove himself became his driving force to push forward and do better. 

“This is what gets me going,” he said. “This is what gets me up in the morning and this is what gets me in the gym and push those hours. This, there’s times when I do these shark tank drills – I’ll do eight rounds. 

“Like, this is the type of mentality, and this type of warfare that I’m preparing for when I go into these fights. Like, I come in ready, and (O’Malley is) doing all this f–ng weird hippie breathing into a balloon bullshit.”

Sterling has one condition to agree to fight teammate Merab Dvalishvili

If Sterling does go through O’Malley at UFC 292, he will have run through the top contenders of the division, except for one: close teammate Merab Dvalisvhili. 

Both men have openly expressed their unwillingness to face each other. Merab, for his part, is counting on Sterling to move up in weight before he puts himself in title contention status. 

But for Sterling, there is only one way for him to agree to fight the Georgian standout. 

“I have no desire to fight him. But if there was something that the UFC could set us up with that would set up my family and his family for the rest of our lives, that’s different. 

“What are we gonna fight for? $500,000? People see that and they go, ‘Oh, just f—ng fight. You guys fight all the time (in training).’ And you should see the fights that we have in the gym. It’s intense. 

For Sterling, his relationship with Merab is too personal. He’s willing to do it for the right price and as long as both of them are taken care of, but he is also in touch with the reality of the situation. 

“To do that and to really try to fight each other and try to hurt each other? I go meet his family, he goes to meet my family. He goes to my country in Jamaica, I go to his country in Georgia… it’s not even right.

“There’s no way you could do something like that, unless there’s gonna be something that’s so substantial that if we want to just be done and we’d never had to work again, OK cool. 

“But I know that’s never gonna happen. So it’s just me throwing out that number that’s never gonna happen.”  

What UFC 292 looks like

As of now, UFC 292’s headliner title fight between Sterling and O’Malley will go as planned. The co-main event features Zhang Weili’s first title defense as a two-time champion, as she takes on Amanda Lemos. 

Also reported to be part of the card is a bantamweight fight between Henry Cejudo and Marlon “Chito” Vera. The fight has yet to be finalized. 

UFC 292 happens on August 19th at the TD Garden in Boston.

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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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