Up-and-coming middleweight Clifford Starks is a name you may be unfamiliar with, but come UFC 143 this Saturday night, things may start to change. A former NCAA Division 1 wrestler at ASU, Starks is a former training partner of UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez and has gone a perfect 8-0 in MMA.
After a dominant run in the Arizona promotion Rage in the Cage, Starks made a successful UFC debut against Dustin Jacoby on only two weeks notice. The judges scored the fight heavily in favor of Starks, who used his wrestling to earn himself a unanimous decision win.
Now with the UFC jitters gone, Starks looks to step up in competition when he meets TUF 3 finalist Ed “Short Fuse” Herman this Saturday. For Starks, he feels it’s a great opportunity because he can play spoiler while his opponent has his sights set on the top middleweights in the division.
“I’m looking at it more of a great opportunity more than anything,” Starks told MMAWeekly Radio.
“He’s asking for a top ten opponent. I can prove to myself and to the fans and to the organization that I’m really here to do something in the UFC and make a name for myself. I think he’s a good person to make a name with win, lose, or draw. I think it’s going to be a great fight. He’s going to bring his A game and I’m going to bring my A game.”
Starks knows that in getting farther in his UFC career, he has to be impressive and make Herman his steppingstone up the middleweight ranks. The former ASU wrestler, however, feels an enormous cloud of pressure hovering over his opponent, leaving Starks the opportunity to just walk into the Octagon without any expectations in a no-lose situation.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity, all I got to do is just walk through the door and perform. I would think he’s got a little more pressure; I don’t know what’s going through his head. We’re just going to go out and see what happens. People can say what they’re going to say, but at the end of the day it’s a matter of what did you do?”
On Saturday, we’ll find out if Clifford Starks can make the best of a win-win situation against Ed Herman.