Aljamain Sterling entered the UFC Octagon for the first time in February 2014 as an undefeated fighter (8-0). He won his first four fights with the organization, improving his record to 12-0 before dropping two razor-close split decisions to Bryan Caraway and Raphael Assuncao. He rebounded with back-to-back wins and wants his next bout to be a fight that will get him into title contention.
“I want Jimmie Rivera. I think that’s the proper fight. He’s talked a lot of (expletive) to me coming up on the regional scene, talking about my striking and that I’m not very good, overrated,” Sterling told UFC Unfiltered. “He started with striking. I started with wrestling. I had to learn. Now that I”m here, I”m like, let’s go. Let’s see who can back up the talk now.”
The 28-year-old New Yorker would like to avenge his split decision losses to Caraway and Assuncao, but has his eye on the bigger picture.
“(Rivera) is the fight I definitely want,” he said. “I definitely, in terms of title fight implications, that’s the fight I want.”
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Sterling believes that the stylistic match-up favors him and can’t conceive a way that Rivera could win the fight, if it were to happen.
“He’s small. He’s small,” he said. “How is he going to hit me? I don’t even know. He’s not going to out-wrestle me. [Renan] Barao couldn’t out grapple me. I don’t see where he wins. We’re not going to stand in the pocket and trade the entire time. This is MMA.
“I’ve got him out-gunned, out with the reach, out with the legs, faster kicks. I’m the faster fighter. I just don’t see where he wins.”