Former UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling is set to make his featherweight debut against Calvin Kattar at UFC 300, vowing never to return to the 135-pound weight class due to the physical toll it took on him.
Aljamain Sterling, a seasoned bantamweight, is finally stepping up to featherweight. His debut is set against Calvin Kattar at UFC 300. Sterling, a former UFC champ, is adamant about one thing. He’s done with making 135 pounds.
“Just thinking about it makes me sick,” Sterling admitted on The MMA Hour. People say he handles the weight cut well, but he’s dying inside. He’s been suffering for a long time. He believes his past performances suffered because of it.
Sterling, 34, is the most successful UFC bantamweight champ ever. He’s set records for the most wins, longest win streak, and most consecutive title defenses. His move to 145 pounds has been a long time coming. After his last bout against Sean O’Malley, he decided to make the leap for his health and to clear a path for his friend and teammate Merab Dvalishvili.
He lost to O’Malley at UFC 292, ending a nine-fight streak. This defeat squashed his chances of a champion vs. champion bout against Alexander Volkanovski. However, Sterling still drew a significant opponent for his April 13 showdown at UFC 300.
“They offered four names, and Kattar was the highest ranked,” Sterling said. He could’ve chosen an easier opponent for more money, but he wants to fight the toughest guys. He believes that’s what matters most.
If he beats Kattar, he could be next in line for a title shot. He doesn’t think that’s too far-fetched. He points out that the top guys have already fought for the belt. If Volkanovski wins again, the door’s wide open.
Sterling enters featherweight at a curious time. Volkanovski, 35, is the oldest champion in UFC featherweight history. He’s lost two of his past three bouts. Volkanovski is set to defend his title against Ilia Topuria at UFC 298. If he wins, the only viable contender would likely be Movsar Evloev.
This could open the door for Sterling if he beats Kattar. But he’s not worried about looking that far ahead. He’s grateful for everything and wants to see how far he can push himself. He’s hit all his goals and now wants to see how many more mountains he can climb.
At 34, he’s a three-time defending UFC champion. He’s made good money (he won’t disclose how much) and has set up his family well. He’s looking forward to his fight on April 13. He’s excited because Calvin is a badass, and he’s curious to see how he’ll do at this weight class.
“Even if I don’t become a champ, I want to set records, set goals, and make as much money as I can,” Sterling said. He doesn’t want to have regrets. He sees a light at the end of the tunnel.
He’s been with UFC for about 10 years. He’s proud of what he’s accomplished. He’s fought three unranked opponents; everyone else has been in the top 15, top 10, top five. He wants to fight the best guys.