UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling says health is his essential focus after a championship win over Petr Yan a weekend ago in Las Vegas – however a quick rematch against Yan is additionally on the horizon.
“I was doped up on morphine in the hospital, and texted [UFC president Dana White] and said, ‘I want to run back the rematch ASAP!” Sterling told ESPN on Tuesday. “I wasn’t in the right frame of mind, clearly. I ended up throwing up later in the night. [But] for me, this is just a belt of unsettled business. Eventually, we’ll get to take care of it.”
Sterling (20-3) won the 135-pound title at UFC 259, when Yan (15-2) was excluded for throwing an illicit knee in the fourth round. The knee rocked Sterling while he was technically in a “grounded” position on the canvas, and he couldn’t proceed with the battle.
At the UFC 259 postfight news conference, White said he would book a rematch because of the uncommon idea of the result.
Sterling turned heads this weekend when he posted an image of himself and previous champion Henry Cejudo via social media, however made it clear to ESPN a rematch is next. He said he simply doesn’t know when, taking note of the conceivably unpredictable long-term effects of a concussion.
“As much as I want to rerun this rematch ASAP, I need to do what’s right for me,” Sterling said. “Make sure I’m being smart about it, taking UFC’s advice, doctors’ advice. When I feel good and ready to go, the rematch will happen and we’ll settle this.”
At the time the battle was waved off, Yan was ahead on two of the judges’ scorecards, 29-28. Sterling held a 29-28 lead on the third scorecard. It showed up Yan was additionally easily on his approach to winning the fourth, which Sterling admitted himself to ESPN.
All things considered, Sterling said he was as yet equipped for winning the title prior to the illegal knee, and didn’t even promptly understand the result could be a disqualification. It denoted the first time in UFC history a belt changed hands because of disqualification.
“I was thinking, ‘I worked so hard to get this title shot, and now this is going to be a no-contest. And because the fourth round was going his way, Dana White is going to skip over me and give the title shot to someone else,'” Sterling said. “That broke me inside. That’s what made me shed a few tears. I was so distraught.
“I wanted to drag it out, let as long as I possibly needed. Was that the right decision, the right way of thinking, to proceed? Probably not. But in my head, I’m thinking, ‘I’m not going to get this opportunity again.’ I won one round, potentially two. I knew I needed a big fifth round in order to win that fight. I was willing to try and push through.”
When inquired as to whether he even needs to be referred to as “champion” between now and the rematch, Sterling chuckled.
“Everyone’s been calling me ‘champ,’ even in the streets,” Sterling said. “I don’t even know how to take it. I can’t really [celebrate] it. I leave it up to the person. I am the champ, but I don’t feel like the champ.”