It was pretty clear how Aljamain Sterling felt about winning the bantamweight title via disqualification moments after his UFC 259 bout with Petr Yan reached its unexpected conclusion.
When the final ruling was announced, Sterling quickly removed the belt from his waist and threw it in the Octagon before falling to his knees in disappointment. Though “The Funkmaster” wanted to continue, a cageside doctor determined otherwise after Yan landed a devastating illegal knee 4:29 into Round 4.
“Everything I worked for to this point and to have the fight go like that… I thought the fight was very close, I thought I was down two rounds. That’s not the way I wanted to win,” Sterling said. “That’s not the way I envisioned this. I just took the belt off.
“I was trying to continue even being like that, I was in a bad shape and it would just have been ego taking over and just to get further punishment. The ref told me I was down. I don’t know. I understand that there is some heat, some bad blood a little bit, but it’s all rivalry …”
The 135-pound title clash was competitive heading into the championship frames, but it appeared that Yan had an opportunity to pull away. Through three rounds, judges Derek Cleary and Sal D’Amato had it 29-28 for the Russian, while Ron McCarthy saw it 29-28 in favor of Sterling.
That only added to Sterling’s disappointment.
“I wanted to continue. The fight was fast paced, it was a lot of action, I know the fans were enjoying that,” he said. “This was potentially going to be one of the fights of the year or one of the greatest bantamweight fights in history for the title. The action was nonstop until that point.”
On the bright side, it appears the UFC will book a rematch with Sterling and Yan as soon as it is possible to do so.
“Sorry that the fight went like this,” Sterling said. “I hope we get to run it back, do it again and give you the fight you guys deserve.”
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