Former UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling has come to the defense of Charles Oliveira after the Brazilian fighter faced backlash from some fans following his withdrawal from UFC 294. Oliveira was set to have a highly anticipated rematch against Islam Makhachev for the lightweight title, but unfortunately, a training injury has forced him to step out of the octagon.
During a sparring session, Oliveira suffered a deep laceration above his eye, requiring immediate stitches. This injury has proven too severe for him to compete, leading to his withdrawal from the fight. As a result, Alexander Volkanovski has been announced as Makhachev's new opponent, setting up an intriguing rematch between the two fighters after their clash at UFC 284.
However, some fans have criticized Oliveira, suggesting that he chose to avoid the fight and should have faced Makhachev regardless of his injury. One fan even pointed out that other fighters, such as Henry Cejudo, have competed with injuries in the past. The comment read:
"Even @HenryCejudo fought @funkmasterMMA with a cut under his eye for his return title fight. @CharlesDoBronxs never wanted the rematch. It was Dana’s business decision to do so. As @TeamKhabib says, Charles breaks under pressure!"
In response to the criticism, Aljamain Sterling, who has recently faced both Henry Cejudo and T.J. Dillashaw while they were carrying injuries, came to Oliveira's defense. Sterling emphasized the importance of fighter safety and questioned the wisdom of competing with a significant cut just days before the fight. He stated:
"All fighters have injuries or problems, bro. Some worse than others. This is a crazy take. Do you think it's wise/smart to fight with a big cut, that was opened up a few days before the fight?"
Sterling's support for Oliveira highlights the understanding among fighters that competing while injured can have serious consequences. It is essential to prioritize the well-being and long-term health of athletes, ensuring fair and safe competition in the UFC.