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Aljamain Sterling: How do you give Israel Adesanya immediate rematch, ‘then you tell me I don’t deserve it?’


If Israel Adesanya gets an immediate rematch after losing his UFC middleweight title, Aljamain Sterling wonders why he’s not receiving the same consideration.

Sterling, who suffered a second-round knockout to Sean O’Malley at UFC 292 in August, called for a rematch afterward, but his request effectively fell on deaf ears.

Meanwhile, UFC CEO Dana White hinted that perhaps the promotion would consider giving Adesanya a second chance at Strickland, despite losing a lopsided decision at UFC 293.

“How did you give him another title shot, and then you tell me I don’t deserve it?” Sterling argued on his Weekly Skraps podcast. “That’s all I’m saying. I’m not knocking Izzy.

“Izzy, if they give you the title shot, brother, take that s*** and run. But what I’m saying it, how do you get it and I don’t? If the fans, Dana, whoever, if they can justify that to me, I’ll be like, ‘Alright, I can see your point.’ But I don’t see the point.”

Despite mentioning a potential rematch after UFC 293, White later stated no decision had been made regarding what’s next for Strickland or Adesanya.

Heading into the fight with O’Malley in August, Sterling already set the record for most title defenses in UFC bantamweight history with three in a row. He also rattled off a nine-fight win streak before losing the belt.

As for Adesanya, he’s 4-3 in his past seven fights, including losses to Strickland, Alex Pereira, and ex-UFC light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz.

“What are we talking about?” Sterling said. “You’re saying his reign was better than mine based on what? I’m giving you guys all these fights and how they played out, which one of these are the ones that stand out? [Paulo] Costa fight was crazy, that was a really good finish, and then the [Alex] Pereira fight, only because he lost and then he comes back in the second fight, and that was a great fight because of the anticipation.”

Sterling also pointed out the adversity he faced making it to the fight with O’Malley; he made a quick turnaround after defeating Henry Cejudo in a five-round fight in May.

“I literally had the entire deck stacked against me coming into that fight,” Sterling said. “I put my balls on the table and said, ‘I’m going to do this one more time, roll the dice, even though I know it’s not the best time for me to get back out there.’

“I was able to make a mental shift to be like, ‘This is your job, this is the biggest moment of my career, let me try to capitalize on it,’ because at the end of the day, this is what fighters do. We risk it for the biscuit, and I came up short.”

Rather than use the word deserve when it comes to Adesanya possibly getting a rematch, Sterling understands it probably all comes down to star power, which is why he might have to fight his way back to another title shot. As a UFC superstar, Adesanya enjoys privileges that may not extend to everybody else on the roster, and that includes the former bantamweight champ.

“I don’t want the fans to get this misconstrued,” Sterling said. “I don’t want the UFC brass to get this misconstrued. It’s a business. It’s the entertainment business. It’s not the merit business of No. 1 is supposed to fight No. 2. If it did, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation, but that’s not the case.

“This is all about the numbers. Izzy has done what he’s done in the past. He’s a huge figure. Look at his social media following versus Sean [O’Malley]. I just wish there was a little bit more consistency so we knew.”

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