Aljamain Sterling respects Khabib Nurmagomedov for not only being a great fighter but also a smart one. 'Funk Master' believes that MMA is a sport where fighters, no matter how good, are bound to lose fights or get severely injured if they continue to compete beyond a certain point of time.
Khabib Nurmagomedov decided to hang up his gloves when he was at the peak of his powers. His decision shocked the world, but according to Sterling, it was smart on the Russian's part to bow out while he was still on top.
Sterling believes that Nurmagomedov's decision to retire at a time when the competition in an already stacked division was getting tougher was the right one. During an interaction with TheMacLife, Aljamain Sterling said:
"If you stick in this game long enough, you will lose, you will get knocked out, you will be submitted, you will get TKO'd... I could be smart enough to know. 'Hey man, the toughest [competition is] getting going and it's probably time to get the f**k out.' So respect to a guy like that."
Sterling added that it's hard for even the very best, like Nurmagomedov, to maintain the same focus for a long time:
"I always appreciate a guy like Khabib because even for a guy like that to wake up in the morning on fight day, every single time for 29 different nights and be prepared to win mentally, physically, spiritually, that's a hard thing to do."
Watch the interview below:
Dana White reveals Aljamain Sterling's next opponent
Aljamain Sterling is expected to make his second bantamweight title defense against former champion T.J. Dillashaw. In his last fight, Sterling silenced his critics by defeating Petr Yan via split-decision in their rematch at UFC 273. Following the fight, Sterling proceeded to call out Dillashaw.
Another former champion, Henry Cejudo, also showed interest in fighting Sterling for the title but it was Dillashaw who got the nod. In a post-fight press conference following the recently concluded Fight Night event, Dana White stated that Dillashaw is likely to fight Sterling next:
"Yeah, that's the fight we're looking to do next... I think it's a fun fight, I obviously, you know, Dillashaw is one of the best in the world, a former world champion."
Watch Dana White give his take on Sterling-Dillashaw and more in the video below: