- Aljamain Sterling choked Cory Sandhagen unconscious and then used his platform during the post-fight interview to support those “fighting the good fight” in America and beyond.
- “The world is in shambles, especially in America,” Sterling said.
- “We got a lot going on in this country, it’s a great country, but there’s a lot of things that need to be changed – especially the injustices happening to minorities.”
- Watch Sterling’s rear-naked choke submission and his victory speech below.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
An American athlete nicknamed “Funk Master” choked his opponent unconscious in the first round, then got on the mic and hailed people “fighting the good fight” by protesting police brutality.
Aljamain Sterling, 30, was competing at the UFC 250 event in the UFC-owned facility Apex, Las Vegas, on Saturday, June 7.
The New Yorker won comfortably before calling himself “a viper, the human backpack” because of the way he submitted Cory Sandhagen with a rear-naked choke.
Watch Sterling tighten his grip on Sandhagen right here:
What a performance from @funkmasterMMA!
— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) June 7, 2020
Sandhagen lost consciousness after the submission and appeared to spasm.
— ESPN (@espn) June 7, 2020
It was a statement victory for the UFC’s No.2 bantamweight, who is in a commanding position to challenge for the vacant championship.
But rather than acknowledge the win or the title landscape, Sterling used his post-fight platform to speak out against the challenges ethnic minorities are facing in the United States and around the world.
‘The world is in shambles,’ according to Sterling
“I got no words for this right now,” Sterling said on the broadcast. “The world is in shambles, especially in America. We got a lot going on in this country, it’s a great country, but there’s a lot of things that need to be changed – especially the injustices happening to minorities.
“So this was for everybody back home fighting the good fight, protesting, I support you guys. I’m with you guys all the way. I wish I could be home and be part of it, but I had to handle business … I’m just on cloud nine right now.”
"This one's for everybody back home fighting the good fight, protesting. I support you guys."
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 7, 2020
On the victory itself, Sterling said: “I’m a viper, the human backpack. I heard his coach say, “he’s just looking to wrestle” and I said, yup haha.
“That’s my game plan, pressure forward, elite wrestlers can really dictate the pace of a fight, especially if you are competent on the feet, that’s what makes us more dangerous.
“Striking is fun, but it hurts a lot more, I’ll tell you that, wrestling is just an easier, clear-cut path to victory, especially when you are as dangerous on the ground as myself.
“There are black belts and then there are black belts … and I’m a Serra BJJ black belt.”
Sterling not the only athlete to highlight the Black Lives Matter movement
In the evening’s second bout on the early preliminary section of the UFC 250 card, the UFC light heavyweight Devin Clark knelt on a knee and raised his fist when he was introduced by Bruce Buffer.
The take a knee movement was popularised by the former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016 and has become a staple part of the protests which have gone beyond the borders of the US,after George Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis last month.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) June 6, 2020
Clark won his fight by decision, out-pointing Alonzo Menifield to extend his record to 12 wins from 16 (3 by knockout, 1 by submission, and 8 decisions).