UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling again raised questions about rival Petr Yan and performance-enhancing drugs, saying he “would not be surprised” if the interim champ was cheating.
“For me, I look at him the same way I look at T.J.,” Sterling said Monday on The MMA Hour. “When you hear rumors, it is what it is. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. I said that about T.J. [Dillashaw] years ago, and it comes out years later that I was right.
“I’m not trying to put dirt on Yan’s name, but there’s a lot of guys in the UFC that I competed against, and I just wouldn’t be surprised. Nothing surprises me any more. You just learn how to become numb to it.”
Yan’s manager, Daniel Rubenstein, declined comment on Sterling’s statement, which came as part of a rant about the UFC anti-doping program administered by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). The undisputed bantamweight UFC champ did not offer any more specific information of interim champ Yan’s guilt, noting only that his suspicions were renewed by the postponement of their title unifier’s move from March at UFC 272 to April at UFC 273.
“Unless he’s on the extra supplements, I don’t know, that good old acai,” Sterling said.
Yan has not failed any drug tests to date, but Sterling has accused the interim champ on multiple occasions of cheating. After one accusation on Twitter, Yan responded that the champ was “looking for another fake excuse.”
Yan recently said his fight with Sterling was moved because the UFC “doesn’t want” a “fake champion to headline the event.”
Sterling also criticized USADA’s handling of the 2019 case that stripped Dillashaw of the title and questioned whether their testing of foreign and domestic athletes is even-handed.
“It wasn’t even USADA that caught T.J. – it was the New York athletic commission,” he said. “What are we paying USADA to do? Is this just a front to remove all liability, like say, ‘Hey man, this is a third party that we pay to test our guys, we have no accountability for this.’ Because I don’t get it.”
“All these guys in these other countries, I don’t think they’re being tested as much as we’re being tested, and I do think, and people can tell me I’m crazy – I’ve watched Icarus, I’ve always had my suspicions about things,” Sterling added later. “This sport was founded on being prideful of, ‘Yeah, I’m jacked, I’m a monster.’ Look at the back in the days and see what people used to look like, the Sean Sherks, and I don’t want to disparage anyone’s name, but we kind of know who’s who. The Belforts – we know what’s up.
“To try to tell me and convince me that people aren’t still doing stuff, USADA can’t catch T.J. Dillashaw, who’d actually been outed by Cody Garbrandt in a press conference, and USADA doesn’t think, ‘Huh, maybe we should look into this.’ Because Garbrandt said, ‘He was the one showing people at the gym how to do it.’ Nothing happened after that. But the athletic state [commision] of New York catches T.J. Dillashaw? So what are they doing?”
Sterling also indicated USADA’s domestic testing left something to be desired. He said a USADA test this past week may have been his first in months and included blood testing he said was typically not required.
A USADA spokesperson told MMA Fighting it was the anti-doping agency’s findings that triggered Dillashaw’s suspension and pointed to a website that tracks all testing conducted on UFC fighters.
To Sterling, all of the alleged shortcomings amounted to a serious problem in the regulation of the sport, one that was letting cheating fighters get off easy.
“You should do jail time for doing steroids or EPO or any type of sh*t like that in the UFC, in combat sports,” Sterling said. “You can literally rearrange someone’s career, their livelihood doing this contact sport. This is not like playing basketball. We’re not hitting a baseball into the crowd. We’re dealing with life-changing events when you step into the octagon. And people will say – the ones that are stupid – are going to say, ‘Well, no one put a gun to your head and told you to do this.’ What? How is that a logical comeback to justify those actions?”
“We’re not Lance Armstrong,” he added later. “We’re not riding a bike. We’re in a freaking fistfight, and if you can be a little bit more aggressive, a little more on point, a little more dialed in, that’s a more dangerous person in my eyes. That sh*t should be jail time. That’s f*cked up, bro.”
Sterling said he would continue to speak up about the situation because of the moral issues at the heart of performance-enhancing drug use in MMA.
“I’m still going to make it known that you’re probably cheating,” he said. “Regardless, I’m still going to get in there with you and beat your ass.”