The New York native wanted simply 88 seconds to place Sandhagen away with a rear-naked choke in a struggle UFC president Dana White beforehand labeled as a title eliminator within the bantamweight division.
The issue with that declaration is that Sterling and Sandhagen each had higher resumes at 135 kilos than Petr Yan and Jose Aldo, who will compete for the vacant title at UFC 251 in July. Based mostly on the UFC rankings alone, Sterling and Sandhagen ought to have been competing to crown a brand new champion within the wake of Henry Cejudo’s retirement however as a substitute the winner is simply now thought-about the No. 1 contender within the division.
As straightforward as it’d earlier than Sterling to lash out at these circumstances, he’s really taken a way more constructive method after securing a title shot along with his win over Sandhagen.
“I’m at all times a man that appears at each scenario as glass half full,” Sterling informed MMA Preventing. “I can by no means complain in regards to the scenario that I’m in. I attempt to put every little thing into perspective. I’m doing what I like to do. There’s quite a lot of Americans on the market that do jobs that they hate, day in and day trip. For me to do what I like to do, with those that I like and luxuriate in being round who’re chasing the identical dream, similar passions, to have that round you day in and day trip, I feel it says lots.
“Clearly, it will have been good to have a bantamweight title on the road. I feel Cory and I had the perfect resume and for me to go on the market and take out a man who had a greater resume than Petr Yan in the best way that I did, I feel it says lots about this division, how stacked it’s. It says lots about my skills as effectively. I feel individuals are actually going to be taking discover and paying consideration of what I’m able to and what the group’s able to.”
Sterling has really spent a number of months calling for a struggle in opposition to Yan, who’s undefeated in his UFC marketing campaign however nonetheless hasn’t defeated an opponent ranked within the high 5 of the division.
In the meantime, Aldo has solely competed at bantamweight one time beforehand and he got here away with a loss to Marlon Moraes.
Placing Yan in opposition to Aldo to find out a brand new champion within the division could be thought-about questionable at finest however Sterling is aware of he did his job to now function the asterisk connected to the footnote of that struggle, irrespective of who walks away with a shiny new belt.
“Petr Yan might struggle Jose Aldo and he might win the belt or Jose Aldo might win the belt however individuals are going to at all times look and see ‘you’ve acquired to beat this man first’ and it provides me consolation realizing that individuals are behind me and realizing that my expertise are harmful and I’m an actual menace to this division,” Sterling defined. “As a way to be thought-about the perfect, you need to take me out.
“I really feel like I’ve form of acquired that Tony Ferguson impact proper now. I’m that man hanging within the wings proper now. I feel individuals are actually beginning to concentrate and take discover of my expertise and capabilities. You set me in there with anyone at 35 or 45, I get in your again, I take you down, it’s going to be an extended evening and it’s a harmful scenario to be in.”
In some ways, Sterling feels just like the uncrowned champion already due to his five-fight win streak capped off with again to again victories over Sandhagen and Pedro Munhoz.
Belt or no belt, he believes in his coronary heart that he’s the perfect bantamweight on the planet but when it takes a couple of months longer to really declare that title, he’s keen to attend.
“I’m going to say so,” Sterling answered when requested if he was the highest 135-pound fighter within the UFC. “Till somebody goes on the market and proves it in any other case. I took out the No. four man on the planet the best way I did and I don’t assume there’s quite a lot of guys doing that to Cory Sandhagen.
“He stated it himself. I noticed him after the struggle after we acquired again to the resort and he referred to as me an assh*le clearly jokingly however he was like ‘a lot credit score to you, go on the market and get the belt. So that you can do what you probably did to me, that’s not straightforward to do’ and gave me quite a lot of respect.”