Chael Sonnen thinks Aljamain Sterling may be the most under-appreciated champion the UFC has ever had.
Bantamweight champion Sterling (23-3 MMA, 15-3 UFC) recently notched a division record third title defense when he defeated Henry Cejudo at UFC 288. Sterling’s nine-fight UFC winning streak at bantamweight is the longest streak in divisional history.
The promotion announced this past week that Sterling will make his next title defense against Sean O’Malley in the UFC 292 headliner Aug. 19 in Boston. “The Funkmaster” said he needs time to heal, which caused a back-and-forth exchange between him and UFC president Dana White. Sterling appeared confused as to why he can’t get credit for his body of work, and Sonnen agrees.
“There’s certain things that Aljo would just like to get credit for, and he’s right to do that,” Sonnen said on his YouTube channel. “I have never seen a more disrespected world champion, and this isn’t new. You guys got your nuts in a ringer over Aljo the night that he won the world championship via disqualification. It wasn’t just you the viewer. The pundits did it to him, as well.
“It wasn’t just the pundits. There were officials and members of the commission that had a huge problem with the referee letting a world title change hands over disqualification. I never understood that. We only have a couple of rules in this sport: Don’t poke his eyes, don’t bite the son of a b*tch, and don’t kick him when he’s down. One was egregiously violated.”
Sonnen is surprised to see that even after beating former dual-champion Cejudo, Sterling still has to fend off critics.
“‘We can bring in the greatest and most decorated combat athlete in the history of time. … If we do that, we get Cejudo back, we get rid of Aljo, the world can then be fixed.’ Aljo didn’t follow the script,” Sonnen said. “Instead of appreciating it, we’ve decided to be angry and we’ve decided to be mean to him, and we’ve decided to hurt the world champion’s feelings.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 292.