Aljamain Sterling was in Hawaii, asleep, when he heard that his division had been turned on its head.
The 29-year-old bantamweight contender was on a coaching tour, protecting himself ready and in form as if he had a battle already booked. He doesn’t, however that would change quickly given the information that broke earlier this week regarding 135-pound champion T.J. Dillashaw. Dillashaw introduced that the USADA found an “opposed discovering” in considered one of his latest drug checks and that he was instantly vacating his title.
Able to step into the cage as quickly as he’s wanted, Sterling had hoped that when the time involves schedule a matchup for a vacant title, he’d be one of many names within the combine. The “Funk Grasp” is at the moment No. three within the UFC’s official rankings on the energy of three straight wins and 5 in his final seven. Nevertheless, fellow top-5 contender Pedro Munhoz has additionally been lobbying for a spot and he just lately informed MMA Preventing that he thinks Sterling’s model isn’t as thrilling as that of himself or No. 1-ranked Marlon Moraes.
Because it seems, Sterling and Munhoz are the odd males out because the UFC introduced Wednesday that Moraes will likely be taking over UFC flyweight champion Henry Cejudo for the appropriate to develop into the following bantamweight king. That solely will increase the chance that Sterling and Munhoz will likely be paired up, presumably to determine a No. 1 contender, and Sterling just lately informed MMA Preventing that he isn’t taking Munhoz’s feedback mendacity down.
“If that matchup had been to occur, I really like my possibilities towards Pedro,” Sterling mentioned. “I noticed him do an interview with some MMA web site, speaking about my model isn’t pleasant for the followers, the followers need blood, he thinks I’m simply going to attempt to out-wrestle or out-grapple him or whoever else I battle.
“My response to that’s, hey dummy, did you watch my final battle with Jimmie Rivera, the man that you simply fought? Did you see me get any takedowns? Did you see me needing a takedown? Or was I not choosing that man aside on the toes? In my view, you’re afraid. I assume I may be the brand new Ben Askren of the 135-pound division.”
Sterling gave Munhoz credit score for the success he’s had after a shaky begin to his UFC profession (the 2 truly each debuted at UFC 170 again in February 2014 with Sterling defeating Cody Gibson and Munhoz dropping a choice to Raphael Assuncao), but additionally wished to place Munhoz’s achievements in perspective. With reference to Munhoz’s latest first-round KO of former champion Cody Garbrandt, Sterling questioned how a lot a win over “No Love” meant on condition that he was coming off of back-to-back losses to Dillashaw.
“You (Munhoz) had two nice finishes in Bryan Caraway and Cody Garbrandt, I provide you with that,” Sterling mentioned. “However I smacked the crap out of Caraway within the first spherical — that was extra of a cardio problem and doing too many exercises within the day of my battle, however that’s neither right here nor there, that was in 2016, what are we doing? — he additionally fought Jimmie Rivera and that was a cut up choice, and I smacked (Rivera) up.”
Requested if he believes that the UFC bantamweight panorama may lastly settle right into a groove by the tip of the 12 months with the highest contenders getting their truthful shake, Sterling was optimistic. He decried fighters chasing superfights — as Dillashaw did when he tried to dethrone Cejudo — and said that his personal motivation is just to “develop into a UFC champ” and “make a shit-ton of cash.”
And it will be so much simpler for Sterling to achieve these objectives if the UFC matchmakers took a have a look at the rankings and labored from there, which is one factor he and Munhoz do agree on.
“We’re all combating for a motive,” Sterling mentioned. “We’re not combating to only battle. There’s bought to be some kind of reward on the finish of the rainbow and that reward is a giant, shiny, UFC gold belt. That modifications each fighter’s life dramatically for the higher. If we’re simply going to have contenders combating simply to battle, that doesn’t make a complete lot of sense. Then I would as properly simply begin leaping round divisions too as a result of there’s a whole lot of enjoyable fights for myself in different divisions that I feel I might like to entertain.
“I simply hope the UFC does the appropriate factor and truly makes the rankings nice once more.”
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