Aljamain Sterling on UFC, free agency: “I want to have a bank account that represents me being a pro athlete”

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

“I want to have a bank account that represents me being a pro athlete. At the end of that of the day, I want a bank account that has the backing of a pro athlete. Right now I’m just trying to look out for myself, look out for future. For [the UFC] to put me on Fight Pass in the middle of the Fight Pass, not even close to top billing, was like, we’re going to put you out, or we’ll see how you handle the pressure and how you overcome this little setback. I think I did very well for myself and I think I stuck out with all 30 fights. Now that all’s said and done, I think I had one of the most exciting fights, and I think I had one of the most exciting finishes and dance moves… Whether it’s Bellator, OneFC, World Series, whatever, the door’s open for me. Financial stability is the most important thing for me is the most important. To be in the UFC and have the name but not the earnings, good for you, you get a hand clasp and a shake and a don’t let the door hit you on the way out sort of thing. I want to exit from this sport with my head intact.”

-Bantamweight Aljamain Sterling talks to Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour about finishing out his current UFC deal at UFC Fight Night 80 and hitting free agency.

Penick’s Analysis: Sterling, and countless others on the UFC roster, absolutely deserve to be paid as if they were professionals competing in the biggest organization in their respective sport. The money’s not necessarily there for the UFC to pay the type of minimums seen in most other pro sports just for getting in the door, but if you’re supposed to be competing in the biggest and supposed best organization, a second job shouldn’t be a necessity. Far too many fighters have to try making ends meet while training for fights in the Octagon, and it’s sad when there are fighters as talented as Sterling who find themselves looking elsewhere to be compensated justly. Hopefully the UFC winds up matching whatever he’s able to get offered so that he’s getting fairly paid his market value and still making his way up the ladder.

[Photo (c) Bill Streicher via USA Today Sports]

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