Aljamain Sterling: Undefeated, Overlooked

For the first time in the history of the company, the UFC recently put on three shows in three nights. UFC and MMA fans were able to watch Paige VanZant show the kind of heart that is impossible to teach as she was being dismantled and choked out by Rose Namajunas. We saw a future Hall of Fame fighter, Frankie Edgar, show his power in the featherweight division by knocking out Chad Mendes and most likely earning himself another shot at the title. Then Chris Weidman, the man who knocked out Anderson Silva, was grounded and TKO’d by the new champ and face of the division, Luke Rockhold. And of course, we all witnessed Jose Aldo’s decade of perfection halted within a mere 13 seconds at the hands (or the left hand to be specific) of the new champion, Conor McGregor. Without a doubt a lot changed within those three days of fights, however, one thing remained the same.

Once again an undefeated Bantamweight contender by the name of Aljamain Sterling walked down to the octagon. Once again the door closed behind him and his scheduled opponent, this time MMA veteran, Johnny Eduardo. And once again we watched as “The Funkmaster” absolutely dominated another UFC talent to extend his undefeated record to 12-0, having finished his last 3 UFC fights. The sad part of this? It also seems that once again his efforts have gone unnoticed by Dana White, the UFC, and MMA fans in general. Instead, the focus is on fellow undefeated top bantamweight contender, Thomas Almeida (20-0), and former WEC featherweight kingpin, Urijah Faber (33-8). There have even been rumors that Almeida and Faber will fight next to determine the next title challenger after reigning champion, TJ Dillashaw (12-2) takes on former champion, Dominick Cruz (20-1) in January. With all the hype surrounding knockout machine Thomas Almeida, and the potential bad blood factor Urijah Faber brings into a title fight with either Dillashaw or Cruz, it’s easy to see why the UFC would rather pursue getting one of the two a title shot over the relatively unknown Aljamain Sterling.

However, it doesn’t explain why a fighter the talent of an Aljamain Sterling is still fighting on the prelims for every fight. He is the #5 bantamweight in the world according to recent rankings, yet due to his limited exposure on the main cards, many UFC/MMA fans don’t even really know who he is. If you get the chance, watch a couple of his fights or highlights, the kid is skilled, exciting, flashy, and a finisher. In fact, Sterling has finished 3 of his 4 UFC fights, and 8 of his 12 total fights. Unfortunately, this fighter with limitless amounts of potential, has already stated he may be forced to retire from MMA due to not making enough money. Which, when you think about it, is no surprise when no one really wants to agree to fight him and when he does fight, he’s fighting while half of the crowd is still finding its seats. Not long ago, Sterling even took to Instagram to air out some of his pent up frustrations with his current position claiming he would soon have to retire and find a “real job”. Later in an interview with MMAJunkie, Sterling would state that he was offered a full-time job where he would be making more per year than he had fighting for the UFC in 2014. It was an offer as a physical education teacher…

But hopefully with eyes turning towards 2016, this may be the year the UFC will finally give this young hungry contender some real competition. So far the biggest name Sterling has had the chance to take on in the octagon was Takeya Mizugaki, who he finished with an amazing arm triangle from his back. There are many high profile fights that could be on the horizon for The Funkmaster in 2016 including Raphael Assuncao, Bryan Caraway, Urijah Faber, even a fight with Thomas Almeida that could determine who will rule the bantamweight class with an iron fist in the future. Of course, that’s only if he doesn’t decide he would rather trade in his gloves and tape for a gym teacher whistle.

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