Current UFC bantamweight champion, Aljamain Sterling described former featherweight kingpin, Jose Aldo’s unanimous decision-earning performance over Rob Font at UFC Vegas 44 as “phenomenal” — however, if paired with the Brazilian in the future, insists he has the sufficient arsenal to hand him a defeat.
Sterling, who is the current bantamweight champion, is expected to make his Octagon return toward the end of the opening quarter of next year following neck surgery, and in his comeback, is expected to meet with interim gold holder, Petr Yan in a title unification rematch.
The Uniondale native, who became the first champion in the history of the organization to earn title honors off the back of a disqualification victory, was slated to return in October in a title rematch with Yan, however, failed to obtain medical clearance to compete in the Abu Dhabi, UAE co-headliner at UFC 267.
As a result, the promotion introduced an interim title into the fray — with Yan defeating Aurora striking sensation, Cory Sandhagen over the course of five rounds with a unanimous decision win to set up a rematch with Sterling.
In attendance at the UFC Apex facility on Saturday night to peek a view at both Font and Aldo, Sterling had high praise for the latter — who managed to secure his third consecutive unanimous decision victory in his first bantamweight main event.
“I thought it was a phenomenal performance,” Sterling said on the post-UFC Vegas 44 ESPN show. “I was doing my breakdown with my podcast and trying to figure out which Jose Aldo was going to show up tonight. I think we got the questions answered. ‘Cause three round Jose Aldo is a nightmare for anybody in this division. We saw it with Pedro Munhoz, we saw it with (Marlon) ‘Chito’ Vera. Five rounds, he tends to struggle a little bit. (Max) Holloway fights — a couple of the other ones, even going back to the WEC days with Mark Hominick.“
“So for him to come out and perform like that for five rounds compared to what he did against Petr Yan, this was night and day,” Sterling explained. “I think he’s still getting better, still proving that he’s one of the top dogs in this division. I’m super excited ’cause this division is super hot right now. There’s guys for everyone to fight and I think even outside the top-15, this division is just way too deep.“
When commenting on the grappling ability of Aldo — who utilized his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to stifle Font following a trio of knockdowns, Sterling claimed he had the tools to usurp him, in fact, any bantamweight in the division.
“I know how to escape,” Sterling said. “He’s (Jose Aldo) not going to hold me there for the entire round and again, he’s a black belt, he’s a legend, he’s done what he’s done in the history books for a reason. But I do believe I have the tools to beat any one of these guys in the bantamweight division. I think myself and Merab (Dvalishvili) are just going to run through everybody.“
With the victory, Aldo is likely to enter the top-5 of the bantamweight ranks, and while former two-time division best, T.J. Dillashaw returned to the winner’s enclosure with a decision win over Sandhagen in July, and appears to be on the cusp of a title shot — the Brazilian has continuously called for a showdown with his fellow former gold holder.
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