Bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling has defended the 135-pound title twice, but still has those that question his fighting abilities.
“Funk Master” captured the title at UFC 259 after Petr Yan was disqualified for an illegal knee. He became the first champion in the promotion’s history to win a title by disqualification. The validity of his championship was called into question by fans and fighters.
He defeated Yan in a rematch at UFC 273 by split decision, but that did little to silence his critics. Sterling defeated former two-time titleholder T.J. Dillashaw in the UFC 280 co-main event, but his doubters were fueled by Dillashaw dislocating his shoulder early in the opening round.
“People can say whatever they want. I know people are going to try to discredit my wins. They find anyway to discredit me any way that they can, which at this point is kind of laughable because no matter what a do there’s going to be some type of fault. It just lets everyone in the world know that no matter what you do there’s always going to be haters. There’s always going to be someone judging, and there’s always going to be someone trying to discredit the things you do,” Sterling said during an appearance on The MMA Hour.
“We live in a weird world,” continued Sterling. “Why can’t you just clap for somebody? You know? Just shut the f**k up, put your own bulls*t aside and clap for someone. Just shut up.”
Sterling is hands-on when it comes to his social media accounts. He takes self-promotion seriously, and admittedly reads the comments. He also responds to them.
“I’m very heavily involved in social media. It’s our life. It’s our branding. We don’t get super crazy marketing and pushes from the UFC outside of certain people. I don’t have to name names. I think people know who they are. You’ve go to do your own promoting. You’ve got to do your own branding,” Sterling said.
“I read the comments. I try to see what people are saying. Try to get a feel, and there’s like so many different viewpoints on me,” continued Sterling. “There’s the cocky, arrogant Aljo who’s not humble. There’s the ones that support me because I work hard. There’s the ones that think that I’m fake. There’s the ones that think that I’m cringe, and there are those that think that I’m cool.”
“I’m reading the comments for my purpose of building the next fight, seeing what people are saying, seeing how to respond in the sense of how to go forward and proceed. It’s all a game. It’s a business at the end of the day. If you can’t wrap that around you head then you’re too dense and too stupid. Common sense ain’t so common.”
After explaining why he reads his social media replies and engages with his critics, Sterling went scorched-earth on his online haters.
“I read the comments. It’s good for me on the down time because I get to chill back and relax and just laugh while I’m having a beer taking my victory lap. The joke’s on you,” he said.
“You’re sitting here talking sh*t about a guy that’s way more successful than you will ever be in your life. You probably live in your momma’s basement. You’re probably eating a bag of Cheetos at the moment, and you’re probably trying to discredit my wins, which are move valid than anything you’ve probably done in your entire career, or your entire life. Not to be a dick, but that’s really what it is. The reality sucks sometimes,” continued Sterling.
“Dude, there are better things you could do with your time and your life other than try to suck value from someone that’s actually trying and sacrificing things to get to a fight.”