Bantamweight contender Aljamain Sterling has recalled being knocked out by Zabit Magomedsharipov while sparring back in 2017. Sterling is due to face Cory Sandhagen this weekend in a fight that will likely decide the next contender at 135lbs.

Speaking to The Score Sterling revisited a sparring session he had with Magomedsharipov who at the time was an unknown prospect, today he is one of the best fighters in the weight division above Sterling, who said.

“I had one bad knockout in training, that was with Zabit. “That was after I lost to [Raphael] Assuncao, back in February 2017. Dude, I didn’t know who the f*ck he was! I didn’t know how big he was. Mark Henry was telling me how light he was, ‘he’s only about 170.’ Okay, I’m about 162, I can go with him today, I was on the lighter side.”

“I never knew who he was; the guy is a f*cking ninja,” Sterling said. “He comes out throwing all these side kicks, these hook kicks, then the second round he throws a 360 round kick. I closed my eyes and ducked my head, and he kicks me, wraps around the back of my head. I didn’t go out, but I was definitely f*cked up. I didn’t see the kicking coming, and it landed flush on the back of my neck. I’ve got it on video, it’s pretty nasty. Hopefully, Mark Henry leaves that in the archives.” (Transcribed by

Sterling has been on something of a tear lately winning four straight fights. ‘The Funk Master’ beat Pedro Munhoz to establish himself as one of the top contenders last time out but was somehow overlooked for a title shot when the belt became vacant due to Henry Cejudo retiring from the sport.

Magomedsharipov is starting to look like the next featherweight champion. In his past two fights, he’s stepped up his level of competition beating Jeremy Stephens and Calvin Kattar over three rounds. He is yet to fight in 2020 but has been linked to a bout with former title challenger Brian ‘T-City’ Ortega.

Do you enjoy hearing stories about sparring like the one Aljamain Sterling told about his training session with Zabit Magomedsharipov?

A lifelong fight fan from Liverpool, England who has been covering mixed martial arts (MMA) and boxing for several years. Follow @JordanEllisUK on Twitter for all the latest fight news, views, interviews and live event coverage.