Not many have had a reign that has split opinion as much as Aljamain Sterling.

While “Funk Master” has occupied the throne since 2020 and turned away challenges from Petr Yan, TJ Dillashaw, and Henry Cejudo, he remains subject to considerable criticism and hate form some portions of the mixed martial arts community.

The latest ammunition for the reigning bantamweight kingpin’s detractors appears to be his reservations about a quick turnaround to face Sean O’Malley in August. Despite only defeating returning former champ-champ Cejudo earlier this month, Sterling quickly came under pressure to accept a date less than four months on.

In addition to that being from some in the fanbase, UFC President Dana White has suggested that an interim belt would be created should he not make the trip to Boston for UFC 292.

And White’s remarks, which included a claim that Sterling “can’t get out of his own way,” has appeared to cause some further animosity between the pair, with the 135-pound titleholder questioning why he doesn’t receive the appreciation he deserves.

Sonnen: Sterling Is Right To Call For Credit

During a recent video uploaded to his YouTube channel, former two-division UFC title challenger Chael Sonnen reacted to the latest dose of criticism being sent the way of Sterling.

After first insisting that “Funk Master” is right to call for more credit and respect from the masses and the promotion, Sonnen suggested that no world champion has ever been “more disrespected” than the UFC’s top bantamweight.

“There are certain things that Aljo would just like to get credit for, and he’s right to do that,” Sonnen said. “I have never seen a more disrespected world champion, and this isn’t new.”

Sonnen went on to address the beginning of that negative view towards Sterling, which came as a result of Petr Yan’s illegal knee at UFC 259 in March 2020.

While it was the Russian who threw the forbidden strike, Sterling quickly came under fire from some of his peers and fans. After accusing him of acting, his detractors consistently dismissed the legitimacy of his reign.

For Sonnen, criticizing the victim of an illegal knee is nonsensical.

“You guys got your nuts in a ringer over Aljo the night that he won the world championship via disqualification,” Sonnen noted. “It wasn’t just you the viewer, the pundits did it to him as well… There were officials and members of the commission that had a huge problem with the referee letting a world title change hands over disqualification.

“I never understood that. We only have a couple of rules in this sport. Don’t poke his eyes, don’t bite the son of a b*tch, and don’t kick him when he’s down,” Sonnen continued. “One was egregiously violated. The referee now has to remedy that, and the remedy, which is extremely clear… (is) he wins because this guy got disqualified.”

The former middleweight and light heavyweight championship hopeful then turned his attention to the most recent example, highlighting the reaction of many to Sterling’s victory over “Triple C” in Newark.

“‘We can bring in the greatest and most decorated combat athlete… If we do that, we get Cejudo back (and) we get rid of Aljo.’ Aljo didn’t follow the script,” Sonnen stated. “Instead of appreciating it, we’ve decided to be angry and we’ve decided to be mean to him.”

Although Sterling has been vocal about the hate he’s received and the perceived dismissive attitude that the promotion holds towards him and his reign, he’s neither let it dim his confidence nor affect his desire to prove his detractors wrong inside the cage.

By all accounts, he’ll boast the same mission in the UFC 292 main event on August 19.

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