Aljamain Sterling admits Alexander Volkanovski callout was nixed at UFC 288: “It wasn’t the performance I wanted”

By Josh Evanoff - May 15, 2023

UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling still believes he can beat Alexander Volkanovski.

‘The Funk Master’ returned to the octagon earlier this month at UFC 288. In the main event, the bantamweight champion faced the returning Henry Cejudo. ‘Triple C’ had been out of the cage since a May 2020 title defense against Dominick Cruz, but was confident he could regain the bantamweight gold upon his return.

However, the Olympian came up short in his return earlier this month. In the main event of UFC 288, Sterling scored a split-decision victory over Cejudo, earning his third title defense in the process. Before the event, both men were discussing a possible move to featherweight to face Alexander Volkanovski. ‘The Great’ is currently slated to face Yair Rodriguez at UFC 290 in July.

Despite Aljamain Sterling teasing a potential move to featherweight, he didn’t call out the champion at UFC 288. In a recent interview on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, ‘The Funk Master’ explained why. In the interview, Sterling admitted that he didn’t feel confident in the callout considering his performance.

However, the bantamweight champion is still eyeing a future superfight with the Australian. Sterling stated in the interview that he feels confident in a possible clash against Volkanovski. However, he first has to make improvements.

Aljamain Sterling, Henry Cejudo, UFC 288

Image Credit: @UFC/Twitter

Aljamain Sterling discusses possible Alexander Volkanoski fight

“There’s a reason I didn’t call him out. It wasn’t the performance that I wanted to have to keep him on notice,” Aljamain Sterling stated on The MMA Hour. “Let me do this one the right way, in a better fashion. There are a couple of little technical things that I did wrong and instantly like, this isn’t the way I look in sparring, at all… I got to fix all these things because I can’t go in there and fight Volk like that because it would be a long and brutal night.”

He continued “Like, I’m not going to quit. But that’s going to be a brutal night meaning I’m taking a trip to the hospital. So, I’m honest about that. Got to clean these things up, if I can look the way I do in sparring I can give Volkanovski a run for his money. I give Yair Rodriguez a run for his money.”

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