All successful people know that success doesn’t come easy, and they are bound to fail more than they will succeed at anything. They are willing to fail in order to succeed eventually. That is exactly who Aljamain Sterling is; he sure knows luck is derived from hard work and positioning yourself for success.
Hi, everyone; welcome. Today, we will be revealing how Aljamain Sterling rose to be a champion. I’m sure you must have heard of Aljamain Sterling if you haven’t; you must be living under a rock – or in a cave or something.
So, without further ado, let’s begin.
Aljamain Antoine Sterling was born on July 31, 1989, in Uniondale, New York, to Cleveland and Sophie Sterling. The mixed martial arts champion grew up with seven siblings and at least half-siblings. Life for most Athletes was not rosy from childhood, and that applies to Aljamain as well. To stay away from the prevalent gang life in which some of his brothers joined, he enrolled at Uniondale High School in 2004 and started wrestling.
His performance at Uniondale High School wasn’t up to expectation, so he couldn’t attain the necessary grades to reach Division I. Instead of giving up, Sterling opted to enroll at Morrisville State College, where he continued wrestling. It was at Morrisville he developed an interest in mixed martial arts when he met Jon Jones and trained on the wrestling team.
After the first year in school, Sterling transferred to Cortland and eventually became a two-time NCAA Division III All-American with a record of 87–27. Sterling graduated from Cortland with a bachelor’s degree in physical education.
While studying in Cortland, he joined The BombSquad in Ithaca, New York. A few fights into his professional career, Sterling left The BombSquad and started training at Serra-Longo Fight Team. He earned the nickname “The Funk Master” from his unorthodox wrestling style.
Sterling's resilient acts towards making a huge difference amongst his siblings kept him going till he started his amateur career in 2009 with a submission win. Prior to turning pro, Sterling compiled a 6-1 amateur record with the lone loss coming by way of a split decision, and he eventually avenged the loss.
During his amateur journey – Sterling captured the Raging Wolf amateur Bantamweight Championship and Extreme FC amateur Featherweight Championship.
In 2010, Sterling started his professional career 2-0 before earning a shot at the ROC Bantamweight Championship. He went on to defeat Claudio Ledesma by a split decision to capture the title. The fight turned out to be his last under the Ring of Combat organization. Sterling went on to sign for Cage Fury Fighting Championships.
Sterling made his CFFC debut in a Featherweight bout against Evan Chmieleski. He won the fight by TKO with just two seconds left in the first round. This victory earned him a shot at the vacant CFFC Bantamweight Championship. Sterling defeated Sean Santella via a unanimous decision to capture his second professional title. He went on to defend the CFFC Bantamweight Championship on three occasions. Sterling finished all three of his title defenses by rear-naked choke, which earned him the opportunity to compete in the UFC.
The road to stardom isn't a smooth one, but with perseverance, it is achievable.
In 2014, Sterling was supposed to make his UFC debut at UFC 170 against Lucas Martins, replacing an injured Bryan Caraway. But, Martins got injured and was replaced by fellow UFC newcomer Cody Gibson. It was an easy peasy for Sterling, as he won the fight via unanimous decision.
Sterling made his second UFC appearance on July 16, 2014, at UFC Fight Night 45 against Hugo Viana. After controlling the majority of the fight, Sterling landed a barrage of punches from the mount position causing the referee to wave off the fight late in the third round.
Sterling was expected to face Mitch Gagnon at UFC Fight Night: MacDonald vs. Saffiedine on October 4, 2014. However, Sterling pulled out of the bout and was replaced by Rob Font. Following a quick recovery, Sterling was promptly rebooked and was expected to face Frankie Saenz on November 8, 2014, at UFC Fight Night 55. However, Saenz was forced to withdraw from the bout, and in turn, promotional newcomer Michael Imperato was briefly linked as a replacement. However, his signing was quickly rescinded, and as a result, Sterling was pulled from the event altogether.
Sterling was expected to face Manvel Gamburyan on April 18, 2015, at UFC on Fox 15. However, Gamburyan pulled out of the bout citing injury and was replaced by Takeya Mizugaki. Sterling won the fight by submission in the third round. Also, in 2015, Sterling faced Johnny Eduardo at UFC Fight Night 80. He won the fight via submission in the second round.
Sterling next faced Bryan Caraway on May 29, 2016, at UFC Fight Night 88. Despite dominating the first round, Sterling lost the following two rounds via a split decision. Sterling was expected to face Raphael Assunção on December 9, 2016, at UFC Fight Night 102. However, Sterling pulled out of the fight on November 23, citing injury. Assunção was subsequently removed from the card.
In 2017, The bout with Assunção was rescheduled, and it eventually took place on January 28, 2017, at UFC on Fox 23. Sterling lost the fight via a split decision.
In April 2017, Sterling faced Augusto Mendes at UFC on Fox 24. He won the fight by unanimous decision.
Sterling faced Renan Barão on July 29, 2017, at UFC 214. The fight was initially contracted to be contested at bantamweight; however, on June 28, the CSAC announced that they would not license Barão to compete at that weight due to his struggle to make the required weight at UFC 177. The bout with Sterling proceeded as scheduled at a catchweight of 140 lbs. Sterling won the bout by unanimous decision.
Sterling was expected to face Rani Yahya on December 9, 2017, at UFC Fight Night 123. However, Yahya pulled out from the event on November 7, 2017, due to injury and was replaced by Marlon Moraes. Sterling lost the fight via KO in the first round.
Sterling faced Brett Johns on April 21, 2018, at UFC Fight Night 128. He won the fight via unanimous decision. Sterling faced Cody Stamann on September 8, 2018, at UFC 228. He won the fight via submission in the second round.
Sterling faced Jimmie Rivera on February 17, 2019, at UFC on ESPN 1. He won the fight by unanimous decision. Sterling faced Pedro Munhoz on June 8, 2019, at UFC 238. He won the fight by unanimous decision.
Sterling faced Cory Sandhagen on June 6, 2020, at UFC 250 in a bout that UFC president Dana White confirmed to be a bantamweight title eliminator. He won the bout via submission in the first round. This win earned him his first Performance of the Night.
Sterling was expected to face Petr Yan for the UFC Bantamweight Championship on December 12, 2020, at UFC 256. However, on November 22, it was announced the bout was scrapped from the UFC 256 card due to undisclosed reasons, and the bout took place on March 6, 2021, at UFC 259. Sterling won the fight by disqualification due to an intentional illegal knee in the fourth round, becoming the new UFC Bantamweight Champion. He became the first fighter in UFC history to win a championship by disqualification. Sterling will likely have to face former champ Petr Yan again before the year runs out, given the bizarre nature of their previous bout.
Aljamain Sterling disclosed at the end of the fight, “Everything I worked for to this point and to have the fight gone like that?” Sterling said after the fight. “I thought the fight was very close, and I thought I was down two rounds. That’s not the way I wanted to win. That’s not the way I envisioned this. I just took the belt off. I was trying to continue even being like that, I was in bad shape, and it would just have been ego taking over and just to get further punishment.”
The controversial new champ got the gold via disqualification in one of the most shocking endings in UFC history, extending his wins to 20 and managing just 3 losses. From a crime-looming neighborhood in 2004 to be crowned a champion in 2021 and clinching Performance of the Night (One time) vs. Cory Sandhagen, Cage Fury Fighting Championships CFFC Bantamweight Championship (One time), Three successful title defenses, Ring of Combat ROC Bantamweight Championship (One time), MMAJunkie.com 2018 Submission of the Year vs. Cody Stamann, 2020 June Submission of the Month vs. Cory Sandhagen, and Cageside Press 2020 “Submission of the Year'' vs. Cory Sandhagen, tied with Khabib Nurmagomedov and A.J. McKee within 11 years.
Sterling didn’t just rise to be a champion in the rings; he also rose to be a champion in terms of finance too. Currently, Sterling is worth about $1 million with endorsement deals; Sterling teamed up with companies like BodyArmor for endorsements. In 2012, Sterling's earnings for the fight increased; according to reports, He made $18,000 from the fight against (Sidemar Honorio) in 2012 and currently earns around $205,000 with bonuses and incentives.
There you have it, Aljamain Sterling's journey to stardom.
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