Aljamain Sterling’s coach explains how he gained the respect of MMA fans

Aljamain Sterling
Aljamain Sterling's twitter

Eric Nicksick, one of Aljamain Sterling’s primary coaches, thinks the bantamweight champion has gained a lot of the respect he had previously lost from the MMA community after defeating Petr Yan in April.

In March 2021, Sterling defeated Yan at UFC 259 by taking an unsportsmanlike knee that resulted in a disqualification, and as a result, Yan was no longer the UFC 135-pound champion. Many fans criticized Sterling for “acting” and didn’t really realize that he was leaning into it and, in some ways, portraying the villain. At UFC 273, “Funkmaster” fought Yan again and won by unanimous decision, putting many skeptics to rest.

Aljamain Sterling’s coach explains how he gained the respect of hardcore MMA fans

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In the co-main event of UFC 280 on October 22 in Abu Dhabi, Sterling will now turn the page and defend his title against T.J. Dillashaw. Despite the fact that not many fans were supporting Sterling at the time, Nicksick thinks it was a crucial period.

“We took a lot of s***, obviously,” Nicksick told MMA Fighting. “It is what it is, but it was funny, Aljamain and I were laughing a couple of days ago and said, ‘Hey, man, every time we post a picture we don’t have 9,000 comments from people posting clown emojis and talking s*** anymore.’ It’s a little different. I think he’s gained that respect back from the overall fan base.

“I think the learning from that time really helped everybody involved. We had the ability to go fight Petr Yan and go back to the drawing board, redo it again and figure these things out. But the maturity and the growth, it helped all of us to be quite fair.”

Transcription courtesy of MMA Fighting