Highly Anticipated Fight in Question After Champion Makes Demand

Aljamain Sterling

Getty Aljamain Sterling

Reigning UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling is down to defend his belt against TJ Dillashaw, but first, he wants the promotion to pay up.

On June 15, MMA Junkie reported that the UFC sent out contracts to the fighters to compete at UFC 279 on September 10. But, during a recent YouTube video, Sterling said he has yet to put pen to paper as he wants to make more than the $400,000 he made in his last clash.

“There’s no fight until there’s ink on paper, and as of right now, my contract is exactly the same,” Sterling said via MMA Junkie.

The “Funk Master” successfully defended his 135-pound strap for the first time when he rematched Petr Yan at UFC 273 in April. And Sterling believes the way he handled the lead-up to the fight and the actual scrap is enough to warrant a pay increase.

“Usually, when it’s not a title fight, when you win a fight, there’s an escalator,” Sterling said. “There has been no escalator in this fight. I’d like to think that I played my part, did the right things and even allowed myself to be the bad guy in the last outing with Petr Yan, and help play up the storyline.

“So one would think that being a company man will actually help you in the long run. So I did my job. As of right now, I’m training, hoping that we come to some type of agreement to give some type of pay bump – which naturally happens in all the contracts.”

Sterling Wants to Be ‘A Company Man,’ But Also Has His Best Interests in Mind

The Funk Master is determined to find a “balance” between being a “company man” and an individual who is concerned about their own best interests.

“For me, I want to make sure we get the deal right before we just jump into another fight,” Sterling said. “Because at the end of the day, I climbed through the ranks, I worked my a** off, and I played my position in terms of helping to promote the fights, which a lot of these guys don’t even do. I’m here to be a company man, and at the same time, I want to look out for my best interests. There’s a fine line where there’s a balance where getting both of those done can happen.”

Sterling Hasn’t Lost in Nearly 5 Years

The Funk Master has a professional mixed martial arts record of 21-3, with two wins by KO/TKO and eight via submission. Since losing to Marlon Moraes in 2017, Sterling has gone on to win seven fights in a row, which include two victories over Yan and a slick rear-naked choke against Cory Sandhagen.

Sterling earned the 135-pound championship in March 2021 at UFC 259 after Yan landed an illegal knee to his head. Although he was losing the fight, Sterling was awarded the belt via disqualification.

Heading into the second contest with Yan, many had predicted that Yan would have his way with Sterling. However, the Funk Master rose to the occasion and utilized his grappling to secure a split decision win.

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