Aljamain Sterling isn’t exactly feeling the love from the UFC, but he’s hoping that will change.
In April, Sterling successfully defended his bantamweight title with a split decision win over Petr Yan at UFC 273. It was a vindicating win for Sterling, who received enormous criticism for the way he took the belt from Yan a year after winning by disqualification at UFC 256. But even so, Sterling says he still feels a bit on the outs with the UFC.
“Sometimes I feel like, for lack of better terms, the cliché, the red-headed stepchild,” Sterling said this week on The MMA Hour. “Sometimes I do [feel like that]. It’s not with everybody in the UFC. Certain people that probably matter the most. I guess it’s not always the best feeling to be on that side, but I roll with the punches. I’m going to do me, no matter what. But I just don’t feel like I get the push like maybe some others do. Or maybe I’m just in my own head.”
Sterling isn’t entirely in his own head. Following the win over Yan, UFC President Dana White opined that the judges “blew that one,” which Sterling viewed as “a slap in the face.” There is also the perception is that Sterling is looked on with less favor than others because he’s open about his issues with the UFC, particularly when it comes to the financial side of things.
For his part, Sterling isn’t sure if that plays a role or if it’s just the way the cookie crumbles sometimes.
“If you were to ask the brass, they probably would say no, but then again, I don’t know. I’m just here rolling with the punches,” Sterling said. “That the best way I can put that. But it’s hard to know what these guys are really thinking. I don’t think any of us know what they’re actually thinking, in terms of the upper echelons of the UFC, and the only thing you can try to hope for is that they like you and you’re in their good graces. That’s really all there is to it. Do your job, hopefully you do it well, and hopefully you get rewarded handsomely for it.”
While Sterling may not be as well-rewarded as some, “Funk Master” said he “makes good money” and previously revealed he made $400,000 for his rematch with Yan. He also said he’s working on shoring up his relationship with the promotion.
“I’m trying. I’m working on it.” Sterling said.
“I’ve been trying. I know the guys are busy and the world doesn’t just stop for me, but hopefully we get things figured out and kind of figure out the working relationship, because at the end of the day, we’re all business partners. I want to help them make money, I want them to help me make money, and I think that’s the best way you can look at a relationship like that.”