Last weekend, on the main card of the UFC’s exciting stop in Atlantic City, long-time bantamweight contender Aljamain Sterling returned to the Octagon for the first time since his tough, knockout loss to Marlon Moraes. His opponent in this comeback fight was Brett Johns, who he dominated to a lopsided unanimous decision victory.
Shortly after this return to the win column, an opportunistic Sterling called for a fight with former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz.
Speaking to MMAJunkie post fight, Sterling explained his choice to call out Cruz.
“I think it’s the right time,” Sterling said. “I see him sitting there behind the [analyst’s] desk. I don’t think he wants to fight anybody unless it’s for the belt, but I think this is a fight where he thinks it might not be a dangerous fight for him in terms of being knocked out or something like that. So I think he’d be more willing to oblige to a matchup like this.
“And I think if there’s a big name I can take out, why not shoot for the stars and see what we can get? I think everyone else is booked up, and I beat him, I’m right here for the title shot.”
Prior to his win over Johns and his loss to Moraes, Sterling picked up one of the biggest wins of his career, authoring a nice decision defeat of former bantamweight Renan Barao. He’s now 14-3 overall.
Cruz has not fought since December of 2016, when he surrendered the UFC bantamweight title to Cody Garbrandt. The former champ was briefly linked to a December 2017 showdown with the surging Jimmie Rivera, but this plan was unfortunately nixed when he sustained an injury. Cruz is a fantastic 22-2 overall.
Does a bantamweight showdown between Aljamain Sterling and Dominick Cruz interest you?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 4/23/2018.