Aljamain Sterling discusses what went wrong against Petr Yan in their first fight

This weekend, Aljamain Sterling will defend his UFC bantamweight title against Petr Yan in the co-main event of UFC 273. It’s a fight over a year in the making, after the two first met at UFC 259, where Sterling won the title via disqualification when Yan delivered an illegal knee that Sterling was unable to continue after. It was a fight that even Sterling admits Yan was winning before the illegal knee, but “The Funk Master” says that’s because he made a critical error beforehand.

“I think I messed up the day of the fight,” Sterling said on his YouTube channel. “I had a beautiful morning shake up, 20 minutes strong, hard pace. I felt like my lungs would never get tired, my arms, my muscles, everything felt phenomenal. Then, just not eating the way I normally do right after, not putting the fuel back into my body to actually go a 25 minutes pace for what I put out. The expenditure of energy, it was just way too much for what I put back into my body after having my morning shake out. Anyone who was there that day, they saw, it looked like I was possessed by a demon that morning, so to go from that to what I did that night, was to me, disgraceful, in the sense of that’s not even a glimpse of what I’m capable of. Especially for how hard I worked, it was very disheartening for myself, because I know how much I put into it and I know that’s not even a fraction of what I can do.”

Sterling went on to say that the difference in preparation caused by COVID-19 and the UFC’s safety policies played a major role in why things went sideways during his fight day preparation, something he says won’t be a factor this time.

“It won’t happen again,” Sterling said. “COVID really messed things up from the aspect of how people normally do things, so to kind of have to make those adjustments without actually having dealt with it before — the Cory Sandhagen fight, they let me do what I wanted. We were able to report at a certain time as long as we reported back before that time to take our COVID test, we were good, so I got to do everything the same. Leave, go get food, eat with everybody, all that good stuff. This one I just resorted to what the UFC PI team gave me, and I only ate the breakfast. I didn’t eat the lunch and I didn’t eat the dinner, not realizing that I was fighting at 8:30 compared to 4 o’clock, and sometimes even earlier than that, when I normally eat a lot differently. At the end of the day, it just comes down to the numbers, nutrition. So again, based on what you do that day, and the day before sometimes, it can really effect how you perform the night of, no matter how good a training camp you had…

“When I stepped into the cage, it felt like I was still cutting weight. I was like, ‘This sucks. It feels like I’m labored right now and I’m trying to get through a weight cut to cut the last few pounds and make weight so I can step on the scale and eat.’ That’s exactly the best way I can describe how I felt that day.”

Over the past year, Sterling has received a tremendous amount of hate from fans for the manner in which he won the title, and from Yan who has repeatedly mocked him as a “fake champion” and “actor.” But with UFC 273 now just a few days away, Sterling has learned from his mistakes and is ready to finally settle his feud with Yan.

“At the end of the day, I take full responsibility for what happened to me because it’s myself ultimately,” Sterling said. “But feeling that type of difference from any other day when you feel like you’re on top of the world and ready to show out, it’s very, very frustrating. It’s been a long year and I can’t wait to get back out there and right the wrong.”

UFC 273 takes place this Saturday at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla.

History of Karate

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