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Aljamain Sterling fires back at Dana White’s criticisms: ‘Why can’t you give credit where credit is due?’

Aljamain Sterling heard what UFC President Dana White had to say about him recently, and it left him scratching his head.

The UFC bantamweight champion recently said that he accepted a fight to defend his title against Sean O’Malley in the main event of UFC 292 in August, but also reiterated he needs to see how his body holds up since he just defeated Henry Cejudo in a five-round battle a couple of weeks ago at UFC 288. At the UFC Vegas 73 post-fight press conference, White seemed puzzled about this, then suggested that Sterling “is one of those guys who can’t get out of his own way,” before declaring the main event for the UFC’s return to Boston is “absolutely, positively on.”

On Monday morning, Sterling released a new episode of his podcast where he reacted to White’s comments, and asked for a little bit of respect from the UFC promoter.

“You put me in this situation and you make it sound as if... if you want me to be the bad guy, tell me behind closed doors,” Sterling said on The Weekly Scraps.

“I’ll play the character, but get me in on the joke, but not when you’re going to keep doing this stuff, making me look like a b****. Like, nah, bro, you’re not going to keep doing that to me, dog. Get the f*** out of here. Dana, get out of here with that. I’ve done everything the UFC has asked me to do — two partially torn biceps, went through two training camps like that, fought through them, beat Petr Yan, former champion. [I] beat T.J. Dillashaw, former champion.

“And then you’ve got Henry Cejudo, ‘the greatest combat athlete of all-time,’ I beat this guy, also with a partially torn bicep tendon. I got stem cells. Every time they have asked me to fight, I put my nuts on the table and I showed out every single time and won. At what point do I get credit from the UFC, from Uncle Dana?”

With the win over Cejudo, Sterling became the first bantamweight champion in the promotion’s history to successfully defend the title three consecutive times.

Sterling will look to break the record for most title defenses ever in the division when he faces O’Malley at the TD Garden. “Funk Master” wants to set the record straight and make it perfectly clear to White, or anybody else who may doubt him: if he says he’s going to do something, he’s going to do everything in his power to follow through.

“Dana is super nice behind closed doors, but then he [says] I can’t get out my own way,” Sterling said. “Like, what does that even mean? Just clarify what that even means. If you’re going to say that because of me saying, yeah, I’m fighting, but I’m also banged up and I want to see how my body [feels], there has never been a fight that was scheduled where people signed the contract — and remember, contracts are just a formality. No one is going to sign a contract and just not show up in the UFC. That just doesn’t happen, so let’s stop pretending that’s a thing.

“I agreed to the fight, I agreed to the T.J. fight — if you want to ask Dana, ask Dana when I signed the T.J. contract, you guys are going to be wildly surprised. When I say I’m going to show up, I f****** show up and I fight.

“If we make a deal, I’m a man of my word. I show up and compete every single time. I do what champions do.”

With an impressive nine-fight win streak under his belt, Sterling is in the middle of one of the stranger title reigns in UFC history with winning the title against Petr Yan by disqualification at UFC 259 in March 2021, successfully defending the belt 13 months later against Yan, stopping T.J. Dillashaw at UFC 280 in October where it was revealed Dillashaw had a bad shoulder injury, and then winning a split decision against Cejudo in a highly competitive championship bout earlier this month.

With Sterling continuing to compete and do everything the promotion has wanted him to do, the 33-year-old is doing what “The Queen of Soul” did in her 1967 mega-hit song — all he’s asking, is for a little respect.

“When I look at all of that, I’m like, ‘What else could you possibly want from a champion who is active, competing, doing the stuff that you ask of him, promote the fight,’ and I’m out here in these streets working,” Sterling explained. “My thing with Dana is, damn, dog, why can’t you give credit where credit is due? Even if you feel I can’t get out my own way — which there’s no context behind that, because I’ve literally done everything you have asked.

“What does that mean, Dana? I’m pretty sure he couldn’t give you a straight answer of what that means.

“Why is it so hard for Dana to go... ‘Absolutely the fight is done, we spoke to him, this kid’s always shown up to the fights, always makes weight, always does the media stuff, we know he’s going to show up, yeah he just fought two weeks ago, he’s a little banged up but he gave us his word he’s going to show up for this fight, the kid’s a killer, the kid’s a stud,’” Sterling continued. “The same way he does for Conor. If Conor does something, ‘Wow, isn’t he awesome?’ Can I be awesome too, Dana?

“I’m not asking for much. If you want me to give you the CARFAX, I’ll give you the motherf****** CARFAX. Don’t play with my name, bro. If we’re going to do this together, let’s get on the same page, and let’s do this s*** the right way. I said I’m fighting. What else do you want me to do? I’m f****** fighting. Just, f***, let’s figure this s*** out.”

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