Aljamain Sterling became the first fighter in UFC history to win a championship fight via disqualification after Petr Yan blasted ‘The Funk Master’ with a nasty knee to his face at UFC 259.
Sterling, a downed opponent with one of his knees fixed onto the canvas, was awarded the victory after Yan’s knee was ruled illegal.
Following an anticlimactic end to the bout, many fans accused Sterling of taking advantage of the situation, which ultimately helped him win the UFC bantamweight title.
Interestingly, many UFC stars (retired and active) shared the same thoughts. They claimed Sterling was trying to gain sympathy by leaving the title inside the octagon, and that his concussion wasn’t as bad as he was making it out to be.
That said, let’s take a look at five such UFC stars who accused Aljamain Sterling of faking his injury.
#1 “Oscar goes to Aljamain Sterling” – T.J. Dillashaw
T.J. Dillashaw was quick to take a dig at his fellow bantamweight contenders after the end of the highly-controversial bout. The former champion noted Aljamain Sterling should receive an Oscar for best actor award in a title fight. Dillashaw also referred to Petr Yan as a “cheater”.
‘TJ’ ended his two-year suspension term in January this year, and is expected to make his UFC return soon. The 35-year-old fighter last set foot inside the octagon against Henry Cejudo in 2019, where he was knocked out in the first round of the fight. Dillashaw later tested positive for erythropoietin (EPO), thus evoking a two-year ban from USADA.
#2 Cody Garbrandt
The No.4 ranked UFC bantamweight Cody Garbrandt also threw shade at Aljamain Sterling for “faking” a concussion. Garbrandt wondered how Sterling was able to stand through the entire post-fight interview with Joe Rogan even after taking a nasty knee to his face that had him concussed.
While responding to a fan on Twitter who asked him if ‘The Funk Master’ actually faked the concussion, Garbrandt said only Sterling will have the answers to that question.
‘No Love’ last fought in June 2020 at UFC 250 where he snapped his three-fight losing skid against Raphael Assuncao. Garbrandt knocked out the Brazilian in the second round to deliver a highlight reel KO.
#3 Henry Cejudo
Henry Cejudo was one of the many bantamweights to accuse Aljamain Sterling of acting. The former UFC two-division champion echoed Cody Garbrandt’s thoughts and noted how Sterling was able to conduct a post-fight interview when he couldn’t stand in the ring and continue fighting.
‘Triple C’, being as cheeky as ever, added that winning an Olympic gold medal is the greatest achievement for an athlete – something Cejudo has already accomplished.
Cejudo’s last fight was against Dominick Cruz at UFC 249. He defeated ‘The Dominator’ via TKO in the second round, and announced his retirement from the sport during the post-fight interview. However, the 34-year-old has since teased a return to the UFC with possible fights against the likes of Cody Garbrandt, Deiveson Figueiredo, and Aljamain Sterling.
#4 Darren Till
Darren Till didn’t stop himself either from poking fun at Aljamain Sterling. Best known for his hilarious social media persona, the UFC middleweight said Sterling should be nominated for an Oscar award along with Hollywood superstars like Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Margot Robbie.
‘The Gorilla’, who is coming off a loss to Robert Whittaker, will challenge Marvin Vettori on 10 April, 2021. The Liverpool native is currently ranked No.4 in the UFC middleweight division, and a win over his Italian opponent could help him break into the title picture.
Israel Adesanya had recently stated that Till is one of the few contenders in the middleweight division whom he would like to fight against.
#5 Abubakar Nurmagomedov
Khabib Nurmagomedov’s cousin, Abubakar, joked about making a donation for Aljamain Sterling so that he could make it to Hollywood casting.
The Dagestani fighter, who competes in the UFC welterweight division, last fought David Zawada in November 2019, which was his promotional debut. Abubakar lost the fight via submission in the first round. He is expected to fight Jared Gooden on March 27 at UFC 261.
What was Aljamain Sterling’s response to his critics?
Aljamain Sterling fired back at his bantamweight competitors who claimed he was playing up the effects of the knee at UFC 259. ‘The Funk Master’ said the only reason why he celebrated his win was because his friends at home forced him to.
The bantamweight champion also had a stinging response for T.J. Dillashaw. He noted Dillashaw can’t call someone a “cheater” when he has violated UFC’s policies throughout his career.
“You cheated your entire UFC career, and you have the b***s to call someone an actor? You lost your manhood when you decided to inject yourself so that you actually compete. I hope (Cory) Sandhagen tools like he did to you in practices before,” Aljamain Sterling wrote on his Twitter.