Aljamain Sterling Feels He’s Still in ‘Elite Tier’ at Bantamweight

Aljamain Sterling doesn’t believe he has lost momentum.

“The Funk Master” was an undefeated prospect with a record of 12-0. Two straight split decision losses to Bryan Caraway and Raphael Assuncao had many questioning how far Sterling can go. The 135-pounder rebounded with a unanimous decision over Augusto Mendes.

He told Flo Combat that he’s still at the top of the heap:

“I don’t feel I ever left the elite tier of this division. I had two split-decision losses to two top-level athletes which could have easily gone the other way with a different judge in there. I don’t see how anyone could really write me off. For most people the biggest chirp is I don’t let my hands go enough and I’m afraid to get hit. Well this is the fight game and going out there and getting hit defeats the purpose.”

On July 29, Sterling will meet former bantamweight champion Renan Barao at UFC 214. “The Funk Master” said the bumps in the road leading up to this fight have only made him stronger.

“The purpose of a fight is to hit and not get hit. It’s the same thing with the sweet science of boxing. That’s how you win a fight. People can say whatever they want though. I still believe in my skill set and what I bring to the table. I know I’m a very dangerous opponent for anyone in this division and my stats speak for themselves. I had those two hiccups but those things happen. I used them as learning experiences and that’s what this entire journey is about. It’s about facing setbacks then coming back stronger and smarter.”