This past Saturday, Sterling successfully defended his bantamweight title beating Petr Yan in their rematch at UFC 273. The victory was especially sweet for the champ, who spent the past year being excoriated by many fans for winning the title via disqualification in his first bout with Yan at UFC 259.
“It feels great,” Sterling told Ariel Helwani. “It feels good to know that everything I’ve said since the first time we fought each other, that I was completely right. What I said, the reason I had an off night, was the way I was feeling and I wasn’t bulls*******.
Although Sterling made a strong case that he deserved at least one 10-8 round in the fight, none of the judges for the event granted him one. In the end, that didn’t matter, as Sterling still swept the first three rounds on two judges’ scorecards. And according to the champ, it was only that close because he took his foot off the gas in rounds four and five.
But though this win was more definitive than Sterling and Yan’s original title fight at UFC 259, that doesn’t mean it passed entirely without controversy. Following the bout, Yan argued that he should have won, a claim that was echoed by some in the MMA community, including UFC President Dana White and former UFC referee turned Bellator commentator John McCarthy.
“There’s absolutely no way you could score that round — big stupid John McCarthy voice. Dude, go get a clue. I don’t know how this guy was ever the blueprint standard of MMA, because that guy sucks. His opinion stinks and it sucks. He just says s***, and I think he just wants people to think he knows what he’s talking about. I think he had an MMA school, I think he had fighters, which one of them ever did anything? What did his school ever do? Because clearly this guy is so great, so what has he ever accomplished, other than trying to judge people and being completely wrong about the scoring criteria of the fight.
“If you want to have an opinion, have an opinion, John. It’s OK, but it doesn’t mean you’re correct, because you are not going by the criteria of how you score a fight. So please just be quiet and let the big boys do what they do at a high level, something you’ve never been able to accomplish. Relax there, buddy.”