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Sterling Silver? The Underappreciated Champion

On paper, Aljamain Sterling has put together an incredible championship reign.  He has wins over Petr Yan, TJ Dillashaw, and now Henry Cejudo.  Despite his impressive resume, however, he has yet to become a fan favorite.  Although outside circumstances have complicated his title reign, no one can deny Sterling’s greatness.

Image – MMA Mania

When Sterling initially captured the belt by disqualification, fans immediately questioned his legitimacy as champion.  At UFC 259, Petr Yan had begun to dominate the fight up until the illegal knee.  Sterling, however, successfully overcame this hurdle in their rematch.  However, the rematch was a closely contested split decision and Yan again won the championship rounds.  Sterling would go on to defeat TJ Dillashaw even though Dillashaw entered that fight with a compromised arm marring his victory. 

In his most recent outing, Sterling has now beaten Henry Cejudo, the former double champion.  However, the fight was once again a close split decision.  Unfortunately for Sterling, the most impressive names on his resume also come with asterisks.  

Image – Sporting News

Despite all of the outside noise, Sterling has continued to make improvements to his game.  His striking looked better than ever in the Cejudo fight.  He has also shown the ability to pace himself over five rounds.  While he is by no means unbeatable, he has made the most of his skillset to score big wins.  His grappling skills continue to pose a threat to anyone in the division.

Image – MMA News

Sterling is now set to face the popular Sean O’Malley.  Having bested the Olympic gold medalist Cejudo in grappling exchanges, he has a chance to dominate this fight.  Of course, O’Malley himself continues to improve and has dangerously accurate striking.  But regardless of the outcome of his next fight, Sterling’s body of work already speaks for itself.  Injuries and inconsistent judging aside, he should go down as one of the greatest bantamweights of all time.

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