Aljamain Sterling may be the reigning and defending UFC bantamweight champion, but he knows his days competing at 135 pounds are likely numbered.
Originally a wrestler before transitioning to MMA, 33-year-old veteran has cut weight nearly his entire life. That tortuous process has also come with a lot of knowledge, which is why Sterling knows his body will eventually reach its limit.
“I do think so [it’s inevitable],” Sterling told The Fighter vs. About a possible move to featherweight, The Writer It’s getting more difficult for me to lose this weight. Even for me to stay consistently under 160 [pounds] in a training camp is really, really hard. I’ve really got to dial it in these next two weeks, and waking up at 155, because that’s the next stage, and then I’ve got the next stage waking up at 152, 150, so it kind of takes away from my training, and I do think it takes away from my cardio a bit when I do get there on fight night.
“That’s why I try to go as hard as I can in the room, so I’m as prepared as I possibly can be so hopefully that’s enough so even with the drop off, I can still make up for it just with mental toughness kind of thing.”
Weight-cutting aside, Sterling has previously addressed a move to featherweight when he’s asked about his friend and teammate Merab Dvalishvili, whose rise in the bantamweight ranks has put him in potential conflict with the champ.
Dvalishvili made it very clear that he would never meet Sterling regardless of what the stakes might be. Recently, he told reporters that he would not answer any questions about Sterling.
Sterling says exactly the same, because in his mind, some relationships are worth more than gold.
“Aljamain Sterling won’t be here without a Merab-type training partner, and Sterling stated that Merab wouldn’t exist without Sterling. He helps me, I help him in training camps. We go over tape. We bounce ideas off of each other. We both moved to the same block in Las Vegas.
” People can speak what they like. You have never known any friends.
“To have a guy like that you can train with and lean on, and who’s super reliable when it comes to giving the extra workouts and just being super selfless in a very selfish sport. It’s nice to have. That’s why we are so close. He’s always there for me and I am there for him.
” Even though I am bruised, I let the man beat me up so he can do the job. I think it just goes to show you how well-respected we both feel in terms of both of our skillsets.”
While the move to 145 pounds is inevitable, Sterling doesn’t anticipate leaving bantamweight just yet. He still has unfinished business to handle against T.J. Dillashaw at UFC 280. Before moving on to a different division, the champ wants to set more records and have a great resume.
” There’s history here for me right now,” Sterling stated. It would be great if I could run up my score to make it extremely difficult for anybody else to capture my record. This is how I feel about 135.. Because this sport is always changing, I want to win the most, keep setting records, and be remembered for my achievements.
“What else am I doing this for? Obviously to make money, but to be remembered as one of the best guys ever at bantamweight, and to have people be able to study me for years to come, decades to come, that’s the new motivation for me.”