“Going too far” – Fans question fighting motivation of Aljamain Sterling after putting several fighters in ‘friendzone’

Fans scrutinize Aljamain Sterling's motivation after ducking multiple fights, labeling them 'friends.'


“Going too far” – Fans question fighting motivation of Aljamain Sterling after putting several fighters in ‘friendzone’

Aljamain Sterling (Source: IMAGO)

Sean O’Malley defeated Aljamain Sterling in the main event of UFC 292. The victory ended Sterling’s reign as bantamweight champion. Sterling came into the fight on the heels of three straight UFC bantamweight title defenses. This is a new record for the division. However, O’Malley dethroned the champion after landing a vicious right hand in the opening minute of the second round.

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As of late, speaking to the YouTube channel Funkmaster MMA, Sterling has mentioned a matchup with Calvin Kattar. In the segment, Sterling mentioned that he had three fights to choose from. But the other two being close friends, he declined those bouts. Sterling has clarified that one of the fighters was coming off a loss himself, and Kattar sits as the highest-ranked amongst the three.

But fans have not been kind to the notion. One reaction said:

Alright this whole not wanting to fight friends thing is going too far, Merab I get but you can’t keep declining other fights for same reason now.

The sentiment comes out even stronger in the context of Merab Dvalishvili, who is sparring partners and friends with Sterling. Both the fighters have understandably agreed to not fight each other, time and again.

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Additionally, Dvalishvili had laid out his plan not to fight O’Malley, with his friend pursuing the same goal. Both he and Sterling are top-ranked within the division. The duo even called out the new bantamweight on choosing Marlon Vera for his defense, instead of either of them.

Standing at 23-7, the opponent is also coming off two big skids. Kattar has been recovering from a torn ACL that he suffered in a headline Fight Night bout against Arnold Allen the previous October. Kattar’s previous fight against Josh Emmett, which went to a decision, was also an agonizing loss.

Aljamain Sterling gets compared to Jiri Prochazka

Sean O’Malley made history by scoring a TKO finish of Aljamain Sterling to claim the UFC Bantamweight Championship. O’Malley dropped “The Funk Master” with a powerful right hand in the second round and eventually finished the fight with ground and pound.

For consecutive months, Sterling has afterward alluded to it as an early stoppage. Meanwhile, Jiri Prochazka shot down rumors of an early stoppage at UFC 295, following his loss. He mentioned that he was actually knocked down by Alex Pereira.

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Aljamain Sterling and Sean O'Malley
Aljamain Sterling and Sean O’Malley (Source: UFC)

A recent tweet has compared Prochazka’s sportsmanship spirit to Sterling crying foul after his UFC 292 loss. Speaking on referee Marc Goddard‘s early stoppage, Sterling had previously said:

It was very odd to me. Rolling backwards to all 4’s isn’t showing intelligent defense, I guess. I never “went out”, was moving the on the ground, but that’s the game. All comes down to the ref judgement, which is out of my control. I should’ve never rushed the 2nd RD action. That’s on me.

Prochazka failed to reclaim the vacant light heavyweight title after being knocked down by the power-punching Pereira in the second round. The UFC 295 main event took place at the iconic Madison Square Garden in New York City. It was Prochazka’s first fight since he vacated the title in November 2022 after suffering a shoulder injury. Goddard was once again the referee in question.

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