Former UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling might have a salient point about getting an immediate title rematch, but would he even accept it if he was offered?
Speaking from vacation in Bali, Sterling said in a video posted to his YouTube channel Saturday that if Israel Adesanya was to get an immediate rematch following his lopsided title loss to Sean Strickland, he too should receive one following his second-round knockout loss to Sean O’Malley.
Immediately following UFC 293, UFC CEO Dana White said “absolutely” to Adesanya getting an immediate rematch and earlier this week was still on board. White, however, hasn’t been as enthused when speaking about Sterling, with O’Malley talking up a different rematch against Marlon Vera for December.
The way Sterling sees it, his worthiness is no worse than on the same level of Adesanya’s considering the way he lost to Strickland and the fact that he’s dropped two of his past three title fights compared to Sterling having a nine-fight winning streak, including a division record three consecutive title defenses, snapped.
“If we’re gonna talk about giving instant rematches,” Sterling said, “you give a guy who lost two fights in the same title reign – so he won the belt, he lost (to Alex Pereira), beat the guy, and then came back and lost again to another guy. So it’s like, how are you giving him another title shot? And then you tell me that I don’t deserve it? That’s all I’m saying.
“I’m not knocking Izzy. Izzy, if they give you the title shot, brother, take that shit and run. But what I’m saying is, how do you get it and I don’t? If the fans, Dana, whoever can justify that to me and I could be like, ‘All right, I can see the point’ – but I don’t see the point.”
While Sterling’s argument might be strong for the UFC to make him an offer, minutes later in the video he indicated he has “no desire” to fight before the year ends.
“It’s still 2023,” Sterling said. “I have no desire to fight for the rest of this year unless it was a very enticing offer.”
A man in the video interrupted Sterling at that moment.
“Like Sean in December?” he asked.
Sterling continued, “But even that, honestly, it wouldn’t even be unless there was some payday incentive or something else on top of that that would make me be like, ‘All right, I’m gonna chill out on the vacation and stop everything and go back to the gym.’ Dude, this is what life’s all about, man: working hard so you could actually enjoy the fruits of your labor.”
Sterling also has made the case for his good friend and training partner, Merab Dvalishvili, to get a shot at O’Malley instead of him, so what Sterling truly wants to happen is anyone’s guess.