Aljamain Sterling suffered his first career loss in May at UFC Fight Night in Vegas to now-fourth-ranked bantamweight Bryan Caraway, and while he handled the loss well in the immediate aftermath, the 26-year-old admits he couldn't keep his emotions locked in for long.
Sterling, who lost by split decision, says he thought he was handling the loss well and putting it behind him, but came unraveled while at a club with friends that night. Sterling chronicled his reaction to the loss in a post with Champions.co:
Later, about an hour before closing time, one of my other friends came over and then he starts talking about it -- the same song and dance. It was like pulling out the right Jenga block, and in doing so it brought the tower down. It just overflowed inside me, and I couldn't hold it together anymore. I legit broke down and just started babbling and crying inside of this club.
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It was 3:30 in the morning and we were in a secluded area of the club, so there weren't too many people around to witness it. I sat there like that for a good 20 minutes. Now, I'm a true believer that you should keep that sort of stuff behind closed doors. You don't want to let people see you in that vulnerable state, but it got to me.
I asked for a challenge and I got it. This journey is about fighting the best and trying to prove you can be the best. I lost tonight but I'm definitely not defeated. Hats off to Bryan and his team. I did everything I could to prepare for this moment and he was the better man tonight. I talked a lot of shit to motivate me to train hard to fight a tough dude. I made my bed and I'm ok with that. This is what we warriors sign up for. HEART ON OUR SLEEVE! This is my passion. This is what I love. And I truly believe I have what it takes to become a @UFC world champion! Heart of a lion with NO QUIT in me! Thank you all to my true supporters, family, and of course the fans! Whether you like me or not, I hope you all enjoyed the show! Love my team #SerraLongo baby!!!!
A photo posted by Aljamain Sterling (@funkmaster_ufc) on
Sterling entered his fight with Caraway ranked in the bantamweight top five and fresh off a free agency tour that ended with him re-signing with the UFC. He finally was getting the push from the UFC that he'd long asked for, headlining the UFC Fight Pass prelims of the card.
He looked great in the opening round but blew his arms out trying to finish Caraway with a full nelson. The gamble didn't work, and Caraway was able to grind his way to victory.
The loss set Sterling back in his pursuit for UFC gold, but he's young and talented enough to rebound and still make a run at the title.
Losses are inevitable, but at least Sterling now knows he should stay out of the club following one.