Last weekend, UFC Hall of Famer Urijah Faber came out of retirement in spectacular fashion, knocking out Ricky Simon in just 46 seconds. It was a tremendous performance from Faber, so good in fact that immediately afterwards, he called for a title shot against current bantamweight kingpin, Henry Cejudo, who had called out Faber after claiming the vacant title earlier this year. Of course, that ruffled the feathers of the top bantamweight contenders who haven’t been out of action for the last three years. Case in point: Aljamain Sterling.
Speaking with Submission Radio recently, Sterling address Faber’s call out, saying that it was irrational and that Faber did not deserve another chance at gold considering his track record previously.
“I didn’t think he’d be that irrational to think that after coming out of retirement after such a long layoff and losing to a guy [Jimmie Rivera] that two guys ahead of him beat,” Sterling said. “I just didn’t think that made a ton of sense. I understand he’s a legend and all that, he just has a huge following and what not, but let’s be real here, the guy’s had four title shots, and right now I don’t think he’s deserving of a fifth.”
Faber has had a rough run of things in UFC title fights. The long reigning WEC featherweight champion, Faber went 0-4 challenging for the UFC bantamweight title in his career. Outside of title fights though Faber has been excellent, sporting an 11-1 record in the division. That coupled with his star power has gotten Faber many an opportunity that other contenders might not think he deserved, but Sterling doesn’t believe that will be the case this time because of how long Faber was gone.
“I think Dana knows,” Sterling said. “If it was a GSP and coming off of a big win, coming off of retiring from the belt like GSP has done in the past, and coming back and just wanting to fight for the belt immediately, it makes sense. But Urijah’s not that guy. So, it does not make any sense whatsoever. I think he’s a huge draw in Sacramento, I don’t know if everyone is… the thing about MMA fans is, what have you done for me lately? So, for him to be away for so long, come back with such a big win – don’t get me wrong, it was a great performance on his part in terms of the finish, I just think there’s a hierarchy now. He left the queue, and now he re-entered the queue. So, if he wants to come back and challenge for a world title, more power to him, but he’s gonna have to do it on my terms and wait for the shit.”
More to the point, aside from not deserving a title shot, Sterling doesn’t think much of Faber’s chances against the elite bantamweights out there right now. Right before Faber retired, it appeared he was getting surpassed by the new blood in the bantamweight division and since his departure in 2016, things have only intensified. Now 40 years old, Sterling doesn’t think Faber can hang with guys who beat the guy he most recently lost to.
“I mean, didn’t we see it already?” Sterling said. “He lost to Jimmie Rivera. I mean, I don’t know if there’ much else to say about that. . . Maybe him and Dominick Cruz could have an old man’s match, the retired fighters. So, maybe they can challenge each other for the retired MMA fighter’s league, the has-beens. So, that’s where I’m at, man. I wanna fight one of these young contenders, one of these guys who deserve it. So, that’s where it’s at. I’ve never been one to shy away from a challenge and I’ve never been one to shay away from talking a big game. I like to put my money where my mouth is and go out there and perform and do what I gotta do. So, like I said, whether it’s Urijah, Petr Yan, I don’t even know who else there is, because just about everybody else is coming off a loss. So, I’m just waiting for my managers to call and go from there.”
Sterling is on an impressive win streak right now. The second-ranked bantamweight has one four in a row over top competition and has looked increasingly sharp each time out. That being said, it would be foolish for Sterling to feel 100 percent confident that Faber won’t get the next crack at Cejudo. Cejudo is clearly interested in the fight and the two have already started talking on social media, building a potential bout. And in this, the era of the moneyfight, Faber could very well sneak in underneath Sterling. Even Sterling admits this, though again, he thinks it’s unlikely. But since Cejudo is currently on the sidelines recovering from surgery, and Dana White says he needs to defend his flyweight title next, Sterling has a solution. He’d be happy to fight Faber in the meantime for an interim title. Or Petr Yan, whoever the UFC prefers.
“It’s MMA, man, the wild, wild west,” Sterling says. “You can just expect that anything can happen, and that’s just where I’m at with things. I’m ranked number two in the world for a reason. I put in the work, I put my time in. The fans know that I deserve the shot. Even the casuals know I deserve a shot, the people who might not be the hardcore fans. But I think my performance and my work speaks for itself. And at the end of the day, if Faber is the guy who jumps in there with me or Petr Yan or whoever it is for the interim title, I’ll be more than happy to oblige to either one of those tasks.”
Yan and Sterling have been going back and forth at each other on Twitter recently over who deserves the next title shot and Sterling says he’d prefer to face Yan instead of “old man” Faber. But however it plays out, Sterling remains confident that Faber’s reinsertion into the division does nothing to harm his own title plans.
“At the end of the day, I’m not really worried,” Sterling said. “I’ve got all the confidence in the world that things are gonna go accordingly and according to plan, and I’ll be getting that long-awaited title shot.”
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Jon is only 32. Let that sink in.
Turning 32 tomorrow, I’ve never felt better. Mind, body and spirit, I feel like I’m in a good place. Families happy, kicking ass at work, taxes paid, kids are well behaved, have God in the home, quality friendships. Even all my plants are blooming. Life is good.
— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) July 18, 2019
Its funny yall say I need one more fight b4 the belt. But none of the contenders want to fight me. @DomReyes already said No, @JanBlachowicz told me I gave him nightmares after the first fight doubt he wants a repeat, and @lionheartasmith is out… that’s all the contenders.#ufc
You are forced to raid Area 51 what mma fighters do you bring with you?
— Matt Brown (@IamTheImmortal) July 18, 2019
Thanks for reading, enjoy the fights, and see y’all on Monday.
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