If Aljamain Sterling wants a fight with the winner of Saturday’s UFC 238 main event between Henry Cejudo and Marlon Moraes, he knows he needs to first defeat Pedro Munhoz—and look good doing it.
On the very same card, and higher up on the booking, Sterling's former foe Jimmie Rivera takes on up-and-comer Petr Yan. Sterling knows there’s a chance a good performance by Yan could earn a title shot, so he plans on doing something about it.
“I’m going to go in there and style on Pedro Munhoz in spectacular, human-backpack fashion,” Sterling confidently told the Top Turtle MMA Podcast on FloCombat.
While the confidence in his own grappling skills is not new for Sterling, the level of his opponent's ground game is. Still, Sterling feels that allowing it to get to the ground will be his opponent’s biggest mistake.
“I think if he accepts the takedown, it’s going to be a bad night for him,” Sterling said.
Although impressing his bosses is important to him, Sterling knows the victory is even more important—whatever way that may come.
“I’ll take the victory any way I can get it,” Sterling admits. “I can point-fight him. I can out-grapple him and look for the submission. I think I can dominate him on the feet.”
Although his grappling style is what brought him this far, it isn’t what he relied on in his last fight. Instead, against Rivera, Sterling got the job done with his hands, and he feels Munhoz might be sleeping on that part of his game too.
“If I need to get into a war, a knock-em-down, drag-em-out fight, I can more than hang with him in that department,” Sterling said. “I think what he doesn’t realize is my arms are really long for the weight class, and I can turn those elbows into Tony Ferguson-style elbows and really start slicing him up.”
But regardless of whether he does it with his human backpack or with his elbows, Sterling has a game plan for making sure nobody jumps the queue on him, and that game plan involves a well thought-out post-fight interview.
“Oh yeah, I’ll be prepared," Sterling said. "I’ve got a fair share of words I’d like to share with the company and share with all of the other bantamweights out there. At the end of the day, I still believe I’m the best bantamweight in this division."
If Sterling wants a chance to prove that once and for all he’ll need to get through Pedro Munhoz this Saturday as part of the ESPN prelims for UFC 238.