Sun | Oct 2, 2022

US-born Jamaican Sterling goes in hunt of GOAT status

Title holder sets sights on TJ Dillishaw at UFC 280

Published:Thursday | September 22, 2022 | 12:08 AMOrane Buchanan/Staff Reporter
UFC bantamweight champion, Aljamain Sterling.
UFC bantamweight champion, Aljamain Sterling.

UNITED STATES-BORN Jamaican UFC Bantamweight Champion Aljamain ‘Funk Master’ Sterling is currently locked into preparations ahead of his October 22 title defence against rival TJ Dillishaw in Abu Dhabi. Sterling, 33, with a record of 21 victories...

UNITED STATES-BORN Jamaican UFC Bantamweight Champion Aljamain ‘Funk Master’ Sterling is currently locked into preparations ahead of his October 22 title defence against rival TJ Dillishaw in Abu Dhabi.

Sterling, 33, with a record of 21 victories from 24 fights, believes working on his core will be the difference between defeat and victory against Dillishaw, a two-time UFC champion.

“Everything is going as planned. I’m currently doing some extra cardio because I never usually ran during my training camps, at all. I’ve been doing some sprints trying to channel my inner Usain Bolt, so that I have extra cardio,” said Sterling.

Born to Jamaican parents, Sterling is on a seven-fight win streak, with his last defeat coming back in 2019 when he suffered a TKO to Marlon Moraes. For him, the focus is solely on being the best version of himself when he enters the octagon.

“It’s more important for me to have a good performance than anything else. If I have a good performance, whether I win or lose, I can live with myself and the fans will appreciate that. That last fight for me was a big upset, so now I can let loose and open up a little bit more,” added Sterling.

Dillishaw, with 21 victories and four defeats from his 25 fights, is the UFC’s Bantamweight record holder for most knockouts, seven.

That record, according to Funk Master, makes focus imperative, as he tries to develop an impregnable all-round fighting style headed into the bout.

“There’s caution going into every fight. If you don’t prepare yourself and treat everybody with respect, you could find yourself waking up with the referee standing above you. The last time I did that, I had a knockout loss and I learnt a very valuable lesson, and I never did that again.

“There’s nobody that fights like him. He’s probably going to be the best wrestler that I’ve fought. But I’m very confident that my skill set against his, will make it a good stylistic match.”

For Sterling, as he heads into his third title defence, he’s of the belief that a victory against his opponent will solidify him as king of the bantamweight division.

“One hundred per cent. You beat TJ, you beat the guy. So that’s where I’m at in my career. If I beat him, that just adds to my legacy and really cements my name as one of the greatest of all time in the bantamweight division,” Sterling concluded.

orane.buchanan@gleanerjm.com