Aljamain Sterling thinks Will Smith and Jorge Masvidal were irrelevant, but he can at least understand the impetus.
The end of March was a big one when it came to physical altercations. Just in the past few weeks, Jorge Masvidal was arrested for allegedly assaulting Colby Covington outside a Miami restaurant, then actor Will Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock during the Oscars in a moment that dominated the speech online since. Smith’s actions came after Rock made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, while presenting an award – and UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling can understand Smith’s reaction, even if he disagrees with it.
“I understand that was wrong,” Sterling said on MMA hour when asked about his position on the Will Smith situation. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying what Will did was right. I want everyone to understand this. But the last couple of years for him, for dealing with what he’s done on social media, and then he’s got another person who – I don’t know their relationship, maybe he thinks it was a friend and that was a low point and that was just enough that was enough and he saw what it did to his wife.
“It gets to a point where we’re all human and we all have breaking points, and I think people forget that. You’re trying to tell this man where his limit is and where his threshold is – that’s is wrong. That, to me, is wrong. You can’t tell me that I should feel that in this time and place, and I should be able to contain myself in this time and place. You don’t know what I’m dealing with.
“Again, I’m not saying it’s good. I think it just got to the point where it’s, ‘Yo, man, I’m f****** tired of this shit.’ I think it was just one of those times. I’m glad he didn’t hit it and I’m glad Chris Rock didn’t press charges. At the same time, I was disappointed in Will that he did this in a national setting to Chris Rock – and even if it was to someone else, it doesn’t matter if it was Chris Rock or Joe Schmo , an ordinary everyday civilian . You shouldn’t do this, but I understand why someone would do this.
“I understand. I don’t agree with that but I understand.”
In some ways, Masvidal’s situation is similar to Smith’s.
In the lead up to their fight at UFC 272, Covington repeatedly brought Masvidal’s family into his trash talk. As such, Sterling feels the same way about Masvidal, and he noted the difference in how Covington and Rock handled their respective situations.
“It’s exactly the same. You cross a certain line, you have to expect not everyone to be the same person that you can get away with,” Sterling said. “Some people might ask someone else to do it, some people are going to be like, ‘No, shit, when I see you and I have an opportunity, just know I’m taking that opportunity. That’s how we grew up on the streets. You said shit and someone is able to catch you slipping, bro, that’s a wrong night for you. Probably the last night for you. So Jorge did what you’d think he shouldn’t be doing at this point in his life and career, but listen, some people live by the code, die by the code. I can’t beat him for that. I’m not saying it’s okay, I don’t agree with that, but again, I can’t tell him how he feels. I can’t tell this man what is enough.
“Now Colby is going after him in the legal sense, doing the opposite of what Chris Rock did, so you see both sides of the equation here, different handling of the situation. Colby is not that street guy. He can fight, if they were to fight again and he got close to him it could probably end up in the same fight, or maybe Masvidal headbutts him and it turns into something else. Everyone to his own tastes. I think it was shit, but you had to know that something was going to happen at some point.
“Again, people are doing crazy bullshit. We live in a crazy world. And to say that everyone is supposed to react the way you would, or the way you think is the most sensible way to react, that’s why we have people in jail. Because people react in certain ways when certain things happen, and that’s just the nature of the beast. We are human beings and we all have flaws. People need to stop acting like they’re perfect.
Sterling is no stranger to rude comments himself. The UFC bantamweight champion has drawn a ton of hate from MMA fans and rival Petr Yan over the past year for winning the title via disqualification and the long delay before a rematch.
Sterling will have the opportunity to silence that hatred when he takes on Yan in the co-main event of UFC 273 on April 9.