Aljamain Sterling
Funk Master

USA

Title fight rescheduled
BantamweightUFC
January 7, 2021
Sterling will take on Petr Yan in a bantamweight matchup as a title fight at UFC 259 on March 6, MMAJunkie.com reports.
ANALYSIS
Sterling and Yan were expected to face off in December, but Yan was forced to withdraw for personal reasons. They'll be rebooked as one of three championship fights at UFC 259. Sterling was dominant during his last fight in June, defeating Cory Sandhagen via submission (rear-naked choke) at UFC 250. Yan became the undisputed UFC Bantamweight Champion in July when he defeated Jose Aldo via TKO (punches) at UFC 251. The two fighters are even in height, but Sterling has an advantage in reach.
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Upcoming fight scrapped
BantamweightUFC
November 22, 2020
Sterling will no longer face Petr Yan at UFC 256 on Dec. 12, Damon Martin of MMAFighting.com reports.
ANALYSIS
Sterling was slated to compete for the bantamweight title in December, but Yan was forced to withdraw for personal reasons. As a result, neither fighter will compete at UFC 256, although the promotion is reportedly seeking to reschedule the fight for a later date.
Set to compete for title
BantamweightUFC
October 14, 2020
Sterling is being targeted to take on Petr Yan in a bantamweight matchup as the co-main event at a UFC event Dec. 12, Brett Okamoto of ESPN reports.
ANALYSIS
Sterling was expected to get a shot at the bantamweight title, and the date has now been revealed as the promotion finalizes the matchup. Sterling had the best performance of his career in June, defeating Cory Sandhagen via submission (rear-naked choke) in Round 1 at UFC 250. Sterling has been consistently dominant against top-level talent in the promotion due to his elite striking defense and high takedown volume. He'll face Yan, who became the undisputed UFC Bantamweight Champion when he defeated Jose Aldo via TKO (punches) at UFC 251 in July. Yan has been effective recently, but Sterling's resume gives him a legitimate shot to claim the title. The fighters are even in height, while Sterling has a four-inch advantage in reach.
Title shot on the way
BantamweightUFC
August 24, 2020
Sterling is in line to face Petr Yan for the UFC Bantamweight Championship in his next fight, Damon Martin of MMAFighting.com reports.
ANALYSIS
The report cites a quote from UFC President Dana White after last Saturday's event, who acknowledged Sterling would be next up despite previously being non-committal on the matter. Sterling is undoubtedly deserving of the opportunity, with the only potential knock being a lack of the level of name recognition White would prefer to see headline a card. That's not due to his performance in the cage, however, as Sterling has won five consecutive fights against solid bantamweight contenders, most recently derailing prospect Cory Sandhagen in the first round and earning a Performance of the Night bonus along the way. The UFC has yet to set a date or location for this event, but given Yan emerged relatively unscathed from his championship fight against Jose Aldo, it could presumably take place in the fall or winter of 2020 -- possibly even on a return trip to Fight Island.
Ready for bantamweight title shot
BantamweightUFC
June 6, 2020
Sterling defeated Cory Sandhagen via submission (rear-naked choke) at 1:28 of Round 1 at UFC 250 on Saturday in Las Vegas.
ANALYSIS
It was the best performance of Sterling's career in the biggest fight of his life. In fact, there is a real argument to be made that the UFC should just scrap the Jose Aldo vs. Petr Yan bout they are planning for the vacant UFC Bantamweight Championship and instead go with Sterling vs. Yan. There's no sign the company will head in that direction, but Aljo is clearly next in line for the winner. His win over Sandhagen was a thing of beauty. Sterling was able to get position on his bigger opponent and drag him to the mat. He quickly took his back and finished Sandhagen off on his second rear-naked choke attempt. It doesn't get much better. Sterling is now 11-3 in the UFC. He has won five fights in a row against top-flight competition (Sandhagen, Pedro Munhoz, Cody Stamann, Jimmie Rivera, Brett Johns) since his fluky 67-second knockout loss to Marlon Moraes in December 2017. Sterling is clearly talented enough to hold UFC gold in the not-too-distant future. He'll also take home an extra $50,000 for his efforts as one of four Performance of the Night bonuses awarded Saturday evening.
In line for title eliminator
BantamweightUFC
May 21, 2020
Sterling is now lined up to take on Cory Sandhagen in a bantamweight matchup at UFC 250 on June 6, Damon Martin of MMAFighting.com reports.
ANALYSIS
This fight was hinted at by Ariel Helwani of ESPN on Wednesday, and Sterling appears to have confirmed the news via his personal Twitter account Thursday. This has all the makings of a top contender bout, with the winner presumably going on to get a title shot. It's made even more interesting by Henry Cejudo's abrupt retirement following UFC 249 last month. Cejudo could always deviate from that plan, but even if he gets the contract he wants, it looks like there will be an opponent lined up and waiting. Both Sterling and Sandhagen have earned the opportunity, each compiling winning streaks of four-plus bouts. Sterling has the slight reach advantage, but Sandhagen is four inches taller. Both men offer elite striking differentials (significant strikes landed minus significant strikes absorbed), but Sterling has a slight edge when it comes to takedown volume and takedown defense.