WWE superstar Big E has shown his support for UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling after his DQ victory over Petr Yan at UFC 259.
The current WWE Intercontinental champion spoke with MMAFighting's The A-Side live chat show about Sterling's behavior after the controversial fight and finish, the fans' negative reaction to their perception of Sterling's celebration post-fight, and how he sees the new champion as the good guy in the situation.
“Here’s the problem, when you’re determining heel and babyface roles, you have to know who your opponent is,” Big E said. “His opponent is a frightening Russian man named Petr Yan. So if Aljo was to turn heel, he needs to do it against a guy who can be a babyface. I like Yan, I’m thoroughly entertained by him, I don’t find him to be the guy we can get behind as a babyface. So I would say no, I think Aljo is our babyface. He’s a charismatic guy. He comes out with the gold, dookie chain, he’s got the sweet, sort of like, high top ‘fro. That’s our babyface. I’d be okay with the heel turn if maybe, like, [Cory] Sandhagen I think is a babyface we can all get behind, maybe we do a bit of a turn there. I think if our next opponent is gonna be Yan if I’m the booker here, I say we fight it, let’s keep our babyface Sterling here, and let’s let Yan be the scary Russian man who knocks people’s heads off.”
He also gave his take on the disqualification finish itself and how the MMA rules system as a whole could be improved, while learning something from pro wrestling in terms of title changes.
“You know, we do a lot of weird things in pro wrestling, but one of the things I think we get right is the title should not change hands with a DQ,” he said. “I don’t know if that means that the title is now vacant, I’m not sure exactly. It feels so wrong that Aljamain is wearing a title now after a DQ win. I think that’s problematic. And I think the fact that the fighter has to decide whether they can continue or not, I think you put that into the hands of the referee or the doctor. I think to have the fighter be in position where he almost has to perform because let’s say Aljamain comes back and says I can continue, but maybe he’s not out from the knee but he’s damaged by it. Now you put this onus on a guy who you expect to be a warrior, to be a fighter, and now you expect to fight for another round or more depending on the circumstance, and he’s behind the eight-ball a little bit because of this knee."
Big E continued on to once again sympathize with the position Aljamain Sterling was put in and understands why he made the decision he did, due to the financial ramifications it could potentially have, regardless of whether people felt Sterling was acting or not after the illegal knee landed by Yan.
“So that whole system needs to be tweaked and looked at because you shouldn’t put the fighter in that position. Because if I’m Aljamain, he made the smart decision, whether he was acting or wasn’t. Now you have pay-per-view points, the fact that he can put on his resume that he is a former and current UFC champion, there really is no incentive for Aljamain to continue fighting. What reason besides the fact that he’s a warrior or this is what he does? Financially, career-wise, he’s pretty much guaranteed himself another Yan fight or, if for some reason they decide not to go with another Yan fight, he’s going to have another title fight next, that’s guaranteed.”