It wasn’t pretty, but a strong performance from Bryan Caraway put him in the driver’s seat following an upset of hot property Aljamain Sterling in the UFC Fight Night 88 Fight Pass preliminary headlining bout on Sunday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
After a slow start, Sterling took full control of the opening round when he scored a takedown about two minutes into the fight. He quickly took Caraway’s back and locked on a body triangle. Though he put Caraway through a number of painful positions, including a severe neck crank, Sterling couldn’t put him away.
Caraway turned the tide in round two. Following some good striking exchanges, which favored Sterling early in the frame, Caraway scored a takedown late in the round. Like Sterling in round one, he couldn’t sink the fight-ending choke, but he kept the pressure on, constantly punching with short shots to Sterling’s head, and taking the momentum of the fight to his favor.
Invigorated by his success in round two, Caraway wasted little time in round three, taking more chances on the feet and securing the takedown sooner in the round than he did in the second stanza.
Sterling tried to slip away, but Caraway kept adjusting his position, maintaining control and constantly attacking with short shots to the head. Sterling couldn’t shake him.
It was a big win for Caraway, who was ranked No. 8 in the bantamweight division coming into the fight, upsetting the formerly undefeated, No. 4 ranked Sterling, but he still put personal struggles before his success in the cage.
“I’d like to dedicate this fight to my nephew. He’s fighting for his life after a logging accident,” said Caraway, before addressing his burgeoning success in the UFC bantamweight division.
“I’m coming for that belt. I’m the underdog every single fight, but I keep coming. So all you haters, sooner or later you’re going to have to recognize my talent.”