UFC bantamweight champ Aljamain Sterling moves to featherweight
Former UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling has announced his decision to step up a weight class, moving into the featherweight division at 145 pounds.
Sterling made this announcement on the Mighty Podcast with host Demetrious Johnson. He highlighted the challenges of maintaining a healthy weight in the bantamweight division.
"I've been 180, a little heavier than 180. It's not a good, healthy 180, but I could get up there," he said.
"I feel good fight where I'm at right now, I'm about 170, 171, and that's a good, healthy weight for me. I'm not fat. I've got some abs going. I don't know how I've ever made it (135) and I don't know how I've made it for so long."
Despite never missing weight as a bantamweight, Sterling lost the title to Sean O'Malley by second-round TKO at UFC 292 earlier this year, ending his nine-fight winning streak that saw three successful title defenses.
"I did the testing and my numbers came back that I'm 26.7 percent over the weight class limit in comparison with all the other bantamweights. I make the weight," said Sterling.
Sterling has often expressed interest in facing top featherweight contenders and has set his sights on a potential matchup with Alexander Volkanovski. In the interview, he emphasized the importance of aiming high and suggested that challenging an up-and-coming fighter would not make much sense for his career.
"People can say whatever they want. This is the only way I know how to compete from wrestling, to college wrestling, to now MMA. It's not easy, but I always get it done," he said.
Sterling is eyeing to face Max Holloway in his featherweight debut. He believes that a victory against Holloway would position him as a significant contender.
"He doesn't have anything to do right now. I don't have anything to do right now. I think UFC 300 could be a fire card, comeback for that, or maybe March," said Sterling.
Cormier concerned over Sterling's featherweight move
Former UFC heavyweight and pundit Daniel Cormier has weighed in on Sterling's move to the featherweight division. He insisted that Sterling's optimal path lies at 135 pounds.
"I think he should stay at 135," Cormier said.
According to "DC," athletes typically consider weight a class change when faced with challenges or the inability to find success. However, Sterling has consistently made the 135-pound weight limit, making it the appropriate category for the former champion.
Cormier was also particularly concerned about Sterling's prospects against formidable opponents like "Blessed."
"Those guys are big. He's a bit of a tweener... is too big. He has a good chance at winning enough fights to work his way back to a title fight. He has a better chance at 135 when he's undeniable again," he said.
Sterling has only fought at featherweight once in his professional career, securing a TKO win at Cage Fury FC 10 in 2011. Standing at 5'7", Sterling would be among the smaller featherweights in the UFC, but he is determined to overcome skepticism and make his mark in the division.
"I've always done it. It's the only thing I've ever known and I've always competed at a high level and I won. I was like, if it ain't broke don't fix it," said Sterling.