Mixed martial arts career
Sterling started his career off in Ithaca, N.Y. at Team BombSquad. He finished up a successful collegiate wrestling career at SUNY-Cortland where he went 87-27 and was a two-time NCAA Division III All-American. He earned the nickname “The Funk Master” from his unorthodox wrestling style. Sterling developed an interest for MMA when he met Jon Jones when they went to school together at Morrisville State College and trained on the wrestling team.
Sterling started his amateur career in 2009 with a submission win. Prior to turning pro Sterling compiled a 6-1 amateur record with the lone lose coming by way of split decision, he would eventually avenge this loss. Sterling captured the Raging Wolf amateur Bantamweight Championship and Extreme FC amateur Featherweight Championship along the way.
Sterling started his professional career 2-0, before earning a shot at the ROC Bantamweight Championship. He would go on to defeat Claudio Ledesma by split decision to capture the title. Although this would turn out to be his last bout under the Ring of Combat organization, as he would later sign with Cage Fury Fighting Championships.
Sterling made his CFFC debut in a Featherweight bout against Evan Chmieleski. He won the fight by TKO with just two seconds left in the first round. This victory earned him a shot at the vacant CFFC Bantamweight Championship. Sterling defeated Sean Santella via unanimous decision to capture his second professional title. He would go on to defend the CFFC Bantamweight Championship on three occasions. Sterling finished all three of his title defenses by rear naked choke, which earned him the opportunity to compete in the UFC.
Ultimate Fighting Championship
Sterling was scheduled to make his UFC debut at UFC 170 against Lucas Martins, replacing an injured Bryan Caraway. However Martins was eventually injured as well and replaced by fellow UFC newcomer Cody Gibson. Sterling won the fight via unanimous decision.
Sterling made his second UFC appearance on July 16, 2014 at UFC Fight Night 45 against Hugo Viana. After controlling the majority of the fight Sterling landed a barrage of punches from the mount position causing the referee to waive off the fight late in the third round.
Following a quick recovery, Sterling was promptly rebooked and was expected to face Frankie Saenz on November 8, 2014 at UFC Fight Night 55. However, Saenz was forced to withdraw from the bout and in turn promotional newcomer Michael Imperato was briefly linked as a replacement. However, his signing was quickly rescinded and as a result, Sterling was pulled from the event altogether.
Sterling was expected to face Manvel Gamburyan on April 18, 2015 at UFC on Fox 15. However, Gamburyan pulled out of the bout citing injury and was replaced by Takeya Mizugaki. Sterling won the fight by submission in the third round.
Sterling next faced Bryan Caraway on May 29, 2016 at UFC Fight Night 88. Despite dominating the first round, Sterling began to tire and would go on to lose the following two rounds and lose via split decision.
Sterling was expected to face Raphael Assunção on December 9, 2016 at UFC Fight Night 102. However, Sterling pulled out of the fight on November 23 citing injury. Assunção was subsequently removed from the card. The bout with Assunção was rescheduled and took place on January 28, 2017 at UFC on Fox 23. Sterling lost the fight via split decision.
Sterling faced Renan Barão on July 29, 2017 at UFC 214. The fight was initially contracted to be contested at bantamweight, however on June 28, the CSAC announced that they would not license Barão to compete at that weight due to his struggle to make the required weight at UFC 177. The bout with Sterling proceeded as scheduled at a catchweight of 140 lbs. Sterling won the bout by unanimous decision.
Sterling was expected to face Rani Yahya on December 9, 2017 at UFC Fight Night 123. However, Yahya pulled out from the event on November 7, 2017 due to injury, and was replaced by Marlon Moraes. He lost the fight via KO in the first round.
Article source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aljamain_Sterling