Aljamain Sterling disagrees with the seemingly popular opinion that the recent Alexander Volkov vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik fight was stopped too early. According to the reigning UFC bantamweight champion, the referee did Rozenstruik a favor by stopping the fight when he did.
The UFC Vegas 56 headliner was halted a little over two minutes into the first round, moments after Volkov caught Rozenstruik with a perfectly placed right hand. 'Bigi Boy' looked stunned momentarily and subsequent shots from 'Drago' prompted referee Herb Dean to intervene.
Many members of the MMA community didn't agree with Dean’s decision, however, Sterling was on the opposite side of the debate. During his The Weekly Scraps podcast, ‘Funk Master’ recapped the event and in his opinion, the stoppage came at the right moment.
Despite Rozenstruik still being on his feet, Sterling believes that if the fight had gone on, Volkov would've come away with an even more resounding finish.
“It was only going to get worse… That split second where he got to recover, when the ref stopped the fight, when the ref doesn’t do that Volkov stays on him, lands a couple more shots and that’s probably the worse finish than it actually was.”
Aljamain Sterling hailed the the referee's stoppage in his first fight against Petr Yan
This isn’t the first time Aljamain Sterling has praised the referee for stopping a fight at the right moment. Notably, he hailed Mark Smith for stopping his bout against Petr Yan at UFC 259 last year.
It was a bantamweight title affair and Yan was leading on two of the judges’ scorecards when he landed an illegal knee on Sterling. Referee Mark Smith allowed 'Funk Master' time to recover and subsequently called a halt to the action of realising the severity of the illegal strike.
Yan was disqualified and Sterling was awarded the belt, making him the first fighter to win a championship in such a manner in UFC history.
In the lead-up to their rematch at UFC 273, Sterling appeared on The MMA Hour, where he recalled his first fight with Yan. The New Yorker stated that both the referee and the doctor saved him from himself, saying:
“Thankfully, the referee and doctor saved me from myself because had they given me five minutes, I would have continued the fight… they stopped the fight, and thankfully they did... Honestly, being that compromised as I was going into the fight, getting punched in the head repeatedly and then getting illegally kneed in the head with a strike I didn’t see coming. That fight isn’t getting any better for me. People can say whatever they want; I didn’t roll over. I didn’t quit. The referee saved me from myself, and I’m very, very appreciative of that.”
Watch Aljamain Sterling's appearance on The MMA Hour below: