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Dana White says Aljamain Sterling is ‘up there,’ but still won’t declare him No. 1 contender at bantamweight

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Aljamain Sterling is probably the picture of frustration these days.

With five wins in a row, including a “Performance of the Night” in his previous outing where he submitted the highly touted bantamweight contender Cory Sandhagen, the New York native has seemingly done everything possible to secure a title shot.

In fact, many believe Sterling should have already fought for the title. But instead that opportunity has been granted to Jose Aldo, who faced Petr Yan for the vacant bantamweight belt at UFC 251 without a single win at 135 pounds on his resume.

Still, Sterling took care of business, tapped out Sandhagen and put himself into position to compete for his first UFC title.

There’s only one problem — UFC president Dana White refuses to actually declare him as the next fighter in line to battle Yan, who became bantamweight champion with a fifth-round TKO against Aldo on July 11.

“I don’t know,” White answered when asked about Sterling receiving the next title shot at the UFC Fight Island 2 post fight press conference. “He’s in there. He’s up there. He’s one of them.”

White offered a similar answer when pressed about Sterling’s status just after Yan claimed the title at UFC 251.

Of course, even if White said Sterling was next in line, nothing is guaranteed until bout agreements are issued and signed. Still, Sterling seems like the most logical choice, and yet he’s stuck hearing his boss say again and again that the new bantamweight champion’s future is uncertain.

Sterling is understandably upset, which led to a post on Twitter recently where he addressed White’s comments.

“There is NOTHING to THINK about Dana White!” Sterling wrote. “I am the next guy in line! I earned my shot and it’s time for me to realize a dream! Cut the games!”

He also posted a video showing White declaring him as the No. 1 contender following the win over Sandhagen just weeks before Yan defeated Aldo to become champion.