The featured bantamweight bout at UFC 228 has some heat behind it. Cody Stamann (17-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) will take on Aljamain Sterling (15-3 MMA, 7-3 UFC) in a pivotal bout at 135.
Stamann vs. Sterling
No. 8-ranked Sterling will look to keep his spot in the rankings against No. 10 Stamann, who’s looking to leapfrog him. In addition to the bout’s title implications, a glance at each fighter’s Twitter accounts will reveal neither of them really like each other.
“He said something on Twitter about being the best grappler in the division,” Stamann told MMASucka. “I told him Bryan Caraway rode him like a prom date. He didn’t care for that much. Next thing you know, we’re taking shots at each other for the next two months. The fans get involved and everyone gets involved and kind of escalates it.”
After the back-and-forth Twitter beef, the fight eventually got made. Stamann said he has nothing personal against Sterling, but doesn’t agree with how “The Funkmaster” has talked himself up.
“I don’t like the guy, but, as an athlete, I think he’s more talk than he is go,” he said. “He talks about being the next champ and doing all these great things, but every time he has a big fight he loses.”
One of those fights Stamann is referring to is a split decision loss Sterling had to Caraway back in May 2016. Stamann recently fought and defeated Caraway via split decision in March. “The Spartan” said his win over Caraway and Sterling’s loss fuels his confidence heading into their bout.
“I beat a guy that beat him,” Stamann said. “He’s not going to be a level I’ve never seen before. He’s an awkward guy who you need to train a little bit differently for. But I’ve got a lot of pretty athletic training partners who have been able to mimic him really well. I’m ready to freaking knock this dude out.”
“Finish him. That’s how I have to win.”
Therein lies Stamann’s rallying cry for this fight. The Michigan fighter feels he needs a finish not only to satisfy himself, but MMA fans. His three UFC wins have come via decision thus far, against the likes of Terrion Ware, Tom Duquesnoy and Caraway. A knockout of Sterling would do much for his UFC career.
“That’s what I’ve been training for,” he said. “I can’t have any more close fights or anymore split decisions. It’s not what the fans want to see and not what makes me proud of my performance in my own head. After I beat Caraway, there was that empty feeling like I should’ve done more. I fought well but I didn’t fight to my potential. To me, a finish is me fighting to my potential. That’s what I know I’m capable of doing. That’s what I’ve been trained to do. Finish him. That’s how I have to win.”
Stamann said he wants to showcase more of his Golden Gloves background in the bout with Sterling, and that he doesn’t want to be known primarily as a wrestler. His offensive wrestling accolades went a long way in his wins over Ware and Duquesnoy, and it was his defensive wrestling that helped earn the ‘W’ over Caraway. He wants to use that against Sterling to be able to put together his boxing in pursuit of a finish.
“I’m getting more comfortable fighting on my feet,” Stamann said. “I don’t want to be one of those guys who’s known for taking guys down and grinding them out. I want to be known for putting guys out on their feet. From the second the bell rings until the ref yanks me off Aljamain Sterling, I’m looking for the finish.”
Climbing the ladder
Stamann feels if he beats Sterling convincingly, he’s about two more wins away from a title shot. He said a win over Sterling could get him a match against someone in the top 5-7 range, naming John Lineker, John Dodson and Jimmie Rivera as potential options. Rivera and Dodson are actually slated to compete on the UFC 228 prelims as well. From there, it’ll be one of the top guys in the division. And then a title shot.
“After I beat Sterling, I’m going to get on the microphone and say I’ll bag the whole division,” he said. “I don’t care. Anybody in the top-10. But I just know that 2019 will be the year I’ll be in that contendership. I’m going to be one of the guys that could potentially be the next guy fighting for the title.”
The bantamweight clash will headline the FX portion of UFC 228. The event features two title fights: Tyron Woodley vs. Darren Till at welterweight and Nicco Montano vs. Valentina Shevchenko at flyweight. UFC 228 goes down Saturday, September 8 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.
Featured Image credit: