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Aljamain Sterling clarifies Andrew Tate tweets: ‘I never victim-blamed anybody’

Aljamain Sterling had some explaining to do this fight week that had nothing to do with his upcoming title defense.

The reigning bantamweight champion is scheduled to defend his title against two-time champion T.J. Dillashaw in the co-main event of UFC 280 on Saturday, but he spent much of this past weekend defending himself against social media commenters after sharing a photo with himself and controversial influencer Andrew Tate and Tate’s brother Tristan.

“Top G’s never die,” Sterling captioned the photos, referring to Tate’s nickname. “Good chopping it up with you fellas.”

Tate is notorious for his misogynistic, sexist videos in which he regularly makes derogatory comments about women, including tweeting in 2017 that “if you put yourself in a position to be raped, you must bare [sic] some responsibility. I’m not saying it’s OK you got raped.” The former kickboxer was recently banned from multiple social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter, but remains a popular figure on social media with Tik Tok videos featuring Tate accumulating almost 12 billion views, according to The Guardian.

Shortly after sharing the photos of himself and Tate, Sterling found himself in a back-and-forth discussion with Twitter comments this past Sunday, with hundreds of replies addressing a tweet in which Sterling attempted to clarify comments he made regarding Tate and Tate’s views.

Sterling offered further clarification when asked about the controversy at UFC 280 media day in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

“So I quote-tweeted somebody that said what everybody else was saying that they were coming down on me for and I was agreeing with the tweet,” Sterling said. “And I said, ‘You’re right. I 100 percent agree with you that Andrew Tate should not ever say it is the responsibility of a victim.’ So people that were coming at me were completely wrong and I was trying to explain that you misread the tweet and then they would show me the same tweet and I would say you’re not understanding what I’m saying. You’re misreading the tweet because I’m quoting and I’m agreeing. I am on your side.

“I have 14-plus sisters. I love my mom. I would never tell my mom that if anything like that happened to them that ‘It’s your fault.’ That’s just the craziest thing to ever say to anybody. That’s like, if you’re in the hood, and you’re walking down a nice neighborhood or something and you’re a person of color and you get shot because you have a hoodie on that I’m telling you it’s your fault because you’re walking down the street. That doesn’t even make any sense. Why would I ever blame the victim? It’s the person that’s not taking the time to understand.”

When some commenters attempted to explain to Sterling why associating with Tate is problematic by providing examples, including a 2016 video of Tate that showed him physically attacking a woman (Tate later claimed that the video was edited) and his alleged involvement in a human-trafficking ring that is still under investigation (Tate has not been charged and has denied the allegations), Sterling continued to defend his stance.

On Wednesday, Sterling did not comment further about Tate specifically, but doubled down that his own tweets were misunderstood and that it was not his intention to victim-blame.

“The clarity on that is I never victim-blamed anybody,” Sterling continued. “I think that’s the craziest thing to even make an assumption like that and if you don’t understand what I said, ask me to clarify, don’t start jumping the gun and start throwing labels and s*** like that.

“I think people are really crazy and I think that’s the problem with the world today. We are so quick to condemn people instead of actually giving people a chance to reason and analyze what people are saying versus assuming and just making a judgment and being completely wrong. That’s just the world that we live in today. I don’t think it’s going to change anytime soon. With that said, hopefully T.J. Dillashaw moves the needle this weekend at UFC 280.”

Tate has proven to be popular with fighters in the United Arab Emirates, as UFC welterweight champion Leon Edwards and bantamweight contender Sean O’Malley also recently shared photos of themselves with the Tate brothers.

Going forward, Sterling assured reporters that he will not think twice about speaking his mind, despite the public backlash that often comes with it.

“For us to be athletes and people admire us and things like that or look up to us, we’re role models, or this, that, and a third, or they want us to sponsor or endorse us,” Sterling said. “Why have us do all that and then try to tell us we can’t have an opinion? Are we not people too? So you don’t have to agree with everything that I say, but you can respect it. I don’t have to agree with everything you say, but I can respect it. I can respect your choice. It’s your body, your choice, you want to do things that you want to do the way you want to do it. I’m not going to tell you that you’re wrong and I think that’s the issue. If you’re trying to tell athletes that we shouldn’t interact or we shouldn’t give opinions on things, then what kind of world would that be? That would be so boring, especially for us.

“Imagine me telling you, ‘You should have no opinion on sport,’ which a lot of people they do and they’ve never even done the sport and when they say stuff I’m just listening like, ‘This is madness. What are you even talking about?’ So it goes both ways, you can’t tell us we can’t have an opinion on the life that we actually live day in and day out and that you can have an opinion on what we’re doing and that you have no experience or credentials whatsoever. So I’m going to always keep being me, ain’t no one ever going to tell me to ‘shut up and dribble,’ ‘shut up and just fight.’ I’m going to be opinionated, I’m going to express myself, you can like it, you can hate it, whatever you do that’s your choice. Again, as long as I’m not hurting nobody, as long as I’m not causing any type of riots or anything like that, I think it’s OK and I think that’s what makes the world a great place because we can all be different people and co-exist together.”

See more of Sterling’s social media back-and-forth below.

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