Aljamain Sterling has a fresh new contract and a featured spot on Sunday’s UFC Fight Night 88 event in Las Vegas, and though another bantamweight matchup – Cody Garbrandt vs. Thomas Almeida – is headlining the event he feels his performance against Bryan Caraway will put him in a better spot in the division than either of those men.
“I think my resume, I think it’s at a greater depth than a Cody Garbrandt or a Thomas Almeida in terms of the guys that we’ve fought,” Sterling said in an interview with FoxSports.com. “I think I’ve fought the stiffer competition and I’ve got finishes to go with that. To me I’m looking at that title fight like I’m the next guy in line next to T.J. [Dillashaw] and Raphael Assuncao, depending on how that fight goes and rightfully so.
“If I go out there and put on the performance I know I’m capable of doing, I will be the next guy to challenge for that belt.”
Sterling gave his prediction for next week’s UFC 199 title bout between Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber, and his thoughts on potentially squaring off against the current Bantamweight Champ.
“I feel like Cruz is going to get it done,” Sterling said of the June 4 title fight. “I think Faber is in the best physical shape he’s been in, he’s looked really motivated to get that rubber match win but for some reason I just think Cruz is going to get that win. He’s such a smart fighter and I’m excited for that.
“It’s always fun to watch Cruz. That’s one of the guys I actually looked up to. So for me to fight that guy, I’m going to be firing on all cylinders just because I always thought that was going to be able to fight and a guy I always said I would beat for the world title.”
Penick’s Analysis: Sterling’s in a great spot after re-signing with the UFC. Though some may see his spot on UFC Fight Pass as being relegated to a buried spot on the card, in fact he’s gotten as much promotion as any of the other fights on the card. Deservedly so. A win in impressive fashion over Caraway absolutely has him in as good a spot if not a better one than the main event winner, and depending on how the Dillashaw-Assuncao fight goes he could definitely wind up in a title fight as soon as this year. It’s more likely he’ll need one more win after Sunday’s event, and that may wind up coming against the Garbrandt-Almeida winner. Regardless, if he keeps doing what he’s done to date, that shot is coming sooner rather than later.
[Photo (c) Bill Streicher via USA Today Sports]
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