Aljamain Sterling still doesn’t understand why he was such a big underdog against Petr Yan.
Sterling was looking to defend his belt in the co-main event of UFC 273 against Yan in an intriguing rematch. Heading into the fight, the champ was a +300 underdog but Sterling only used that as motivation as he knew his grappling could win him the fight.
“After the first round I just thought we could do this all day, we got one in the book, one in the bag and he couldn’t touch me,” Sterling said to BJPENN.com. “His shots barely landed, so if you want to count them sure but they barely landed, I landed the cleaner shots, the harder shots and I outstrike him by five or seven strikes. People were so blinded by the Yan aura that they wanted him to win so bad they had to grasp at straws. It was Yan by murder, Yan by decapitation, or Yan by anything he wants. I just couldn’t believe people thought it was going to be a cakewalk for him.”
After the first round, Sterling was confident he was up 1-0 and going into the second frame his plan was to initiate the grappling. He wound up doing just that as he controlled the second round on the canvas while attempting multiple submissions and landing ground and pound. However, no judges gave him a 10-8 round for it, which he says is criminal.
“After the second round, I thought it was a 10-8, I had like four minutes of control time, ground and pound, and submission attempts. That is the rulebook for the new scoring system on how to score a 10-8 round, and the fact they never gave me one is absolutely criminal,” Sterling said. “We don’t get to appeal or anything or ask questions it’s they make the rules and they get to judge and there is no accountability. I’m not trying to talk shit but there has to be accountability in order for our sport to grow. That’s criminal, 3:54 seconds, submission attempts, flattened him out, landing strikes, near fight-ending, it’s crazy, I thought I had two 10-8 rounds.”
After the third round, Alajmain Sterling believed he had scored another 10-8 which prompted his gameplan to change. The plan then became just tosurvive and not get caught, which he admits was not the best strategy.
“Honestly, it was let’s not get caught,” Sterling explained. “In hindsight, I gave away the fourth round, kind of stupid as I wanted to do something really cool as I was running away with the fight… People have to realize my rounds were dominant and the rounds he won were really close.”
Although Aljamain Sterling knows he gave away the fourth and fifth rounds, he’s still confident he won the fight and did so rather easily. Yet, as the scorecards were read, Sterling thought he was about to get robbed of a decision win again.
“I was super confident and then when I heard split I thought, am I going to be robbed of a split decision again? I got robbed against Raphael Assuncao, the same thing with Bryan Caraway. For me, I was like if I got robbed from this fight at least I fought hard and I just got robbed,” Sterling said.
In the end, it was Sterling getting his hand raised by split decision which was an emotional moment for him. He overcame neck surgery to get to the fight and silenced the doubters which he is pleased with.
“It’s been really good, very rewarding for me, just going around like Santa Clause with my cry jar and collecting all the tears from these Yan fans. Just telling them to suck it and going on my merry way and telling them I told you so,” Sterling concluded.
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