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All of Aljamain
Sterling’s efforts thus far have pointed to this moment. The
question now becomes whether or not he can complete the final—and
most difficult—leg of his journey.
The Serra-Longo Fight Team standout will challenge Petr Yan for
Ultimate Fighting Championship bantamweight crown as part of a
UFC 259 title tripleheader on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las
Vegas. Stock in Sterling has never been higher, as he enters the
cage on the heels of five straight victories. The 31-year-old
Uniondale, New York, native last appeared at UFC 250 in June, when
he needed just 88 seconds to throttle the highly regarded Cory
Sandhagen with a rear-naked choke.
As Sterling prepares for a career-defining confrontation with Yan,
here are five things you might not know about him:
1. He passed through a crucible.
Sterling was an accomplished amateur wrestler before he made the
transition to mixed martial arts. He competed at Morrisville State
College, then transferred to the State University of New York
College at Cortland—a Division III institution where he became a
two-time NCAA All-American. His 87 career victories still rank 18th
on the school’s all-time list.
2. Championships are not foreign to him.
3. Hard data backs up his results.
Sterling ranks second on the UFC’s all-time list at 135 pounds in
total strikes landed (1,102), third in submission victories (four),
third in striking differential (2.82), fourth in wins (10) and
fourth in significant strikes landed (732). The Matt Serra
protégé also holds the UFC record for distance strikes landed in a
single fight, as he landed 172 of them in a unanimous decision over
Munhoz at UFC 238.
4. He did not take the path of least resistance.
5. His travels have not yet required a passport.
All 22 of Sterling’s fights have taken place inside the continental
United States. He has fought nine times in New Jersey, four times
in Nevada, twice in Pennsylvania, twice in California, once in
Colorado, once in Missouri, once in Texas, once in Arizona and once