Aljamain Sterling planned mom’s UFC 273 travel during weight cut

Sophia Sterling was giddy with excitement as she called her son Aljamain on April 7, two days before the biggest night of his professional life.

She had never been interested in watching her boy in action – who wants to see their son get hurt? – not even afterward with the benefit of knowing the result. But, for whatever reason, she called the UFC bantamweight champion that Thursday night, asking for help getting a flight to Jacksonville and a ticket into VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena for April 9 to watch him unify the championship against Petr Yan, which he won via split decision.

Unbeknownst to Sophia, she chose to spring this on Aljamain “on the worst day possible.” He took the call just before beginning his weight cut to 135 pounds, a physically-and mentally-draining process. The 32-year-old Long Island native says nobody in his family, save for his brothers, understands what goes into preparing for a fight. In other words: Parents just don’t understand.

“Ma, you gotta be kidding me right now,” Aljamain Sterling, who recently spoke with The Post at a midtown Manhattan restaurant, recalled telling her. “She has no clue what I’m going through or how I feel at the moment.”

Aljamain Sterling poses with mother Sophia Sterling.
Zuffa LLC

It’s not that Aljamain didn’t want his beloved mother around for his big fight, a unification bout against the interim champion Yan that was meant to put a period on a nearly two-year rivalry. It’s just that, well, who wants to plan travel arrangements, let alone do so while feeling what he described as “hangry”?

The lateness of the request didn’t make it any easier. Flights were running $1,000, Aljamain said. He needed to secure a ticket to attend UFC 273. He had passed the responsibility off onto his managers, but he ultimately was part of the whole process.

All’s well that ends well, as Sophia Sterling arrived on Saturday and in time to watch her son prove his many doubters wrong by upsetting Yan, who was a heavy favorite at the sportsbooks.

“It was cool having her [at the fight]. I won’t lie about that,” Aljamain Sterling said. “Definitely happy about it, and I’m glad I sucked it up.”

Aljamain Sterling punches Petr Yan.
Aljamain Sterling punches Petr Yan.
Zuffa LLC

The experience of watching her son compete “was a lot to take in,” Aljamain suspects. Fair guess, given the way she reacted after Bruce Buffer called out his name as the victor.

“My fiancee [Rebecca Cruz] told me [Sophia] threw herself on the floor after they announced I won,” Sterling said. “You can’t make this stuff up, and it was just hilarious to hear. She was just in shock.”

Aljamain thinks his mother’s experience gave her a new perspective on what he does for a living. That includes the post-fight interviews and obligations, which dragged well past midnight before returning to their hotel rooms at 2:45 am

“She was in the back room like, ‘Are we done yet? Are we done yet?’ when I was doing all the interviews,” an amused Sterling remembers. “My fiancée had to remind her again, ‘Listen, your son works very, very hard. It’s not just fighting [and] that’s it.’ ”

“[Sophia] was exhausted. Like, imagine how I feel,” he says with a laugh.

Ultimately, Sophia Sterling loved the experience, with Aljamain relaying that she called it “the most fun she thinks she’s ever had.”

Aljamain Sterling’s next title defense isn’t set, and a top priority at the moment is finding his way to a beach — perhaps in El Salvador or his parents’ native Jamaica. As of last week, the UFC had not reached out to him with plans for a date or opponent. Although he likes the idea of ​​competing three times this year, he’s weighing how much he wants to make quick turnarounds in late August into early September and then again in December.

Aljamain Sterling
Aljamain Sterling
Getty Images

“It’s doable,” Sterling concedes. “Do I want to push my body to those extreme limits? I don’t know yet. We’re just taking one fight at a time.”

But if his mother attends the next one, Aljamain wants flight plans booked “well in advance,” or else, he jokes, she may need to make alternative arrangements.

“You’re gonna have to take the bus or something,” Sterling said. “We make good money, but I’m not here to just p–s money away.”

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