No. 5-ranked UFC bantamweight Aljamain “The Funk Master” Sterling will look to keep his undefeated record alive at this Thursday’s (December 10, 2015) UFC Fight Night 80 when he takes on Johnny Eduardo in Las Vegas.
Although he currently sits at 3-0 inside of the Octagon, this fight will mark the last on his current contract, and it seems as if Sterling could be considering testing free agency as he hasn’t been fully happy with how things have played out:
“I don’t want to make it sound like I’m gambling against the UFC, but at the same time, the offer they made me just wasn’t that compelling,” he told MMAjunkie. “I will say that.
“For what I’ve done and what I plan to do to this next guy, I just don’t think it’s a compelling enough offer for where I’m going to be compared to the other guys who are ranked in the top five in their division. So I look at those kinds of things to see where I’m at and what’s reasonable.”
Sterling has been rather inactive as of late, but that wasn’t his own doing, as he’s been consistently campaigning for different fights over the last few months. That along with the lack of pay compared to a possible full-time teaching job he was offered even had “The Funk Master” considering retirement at one point:
“It was a very big moment of frustration for me,” the New Yorker said. “It sucks because I’ve been offered a full-time teaching job, and starting salary here on Long Island for a physical-education teacher is $56,000, and that would’ve been more money than I made between my two fights from last year, 2014.
“So, it just kind of sucks when you look at the numbers like that. I’m 26. I got in the UFC when I was 24, and I only had three fights from Feb. 22 (2014) until now.”
Not only has Sterling proved his ability to compete with and beat some of the top 135-pounders in the world, he has shown a crafty skillset and the ability to finish. The Serra-Longo product hasn’t competed since last April when he scored a super impressive submission victory over Takeya Mizugaki.
Although he was happy with the win, “The Funk Master” wasn’t pleased with the fact that he wasn’t given a bonus for his efforts:
“I told (UFC President Dana White), ‘Yo, I had a submission that hasn’t been done before, and you gave the (bonus) to Rockhold, for a rear-naked choke or whatever,” he said. “I mean, that was a highly contested fight between two high-level guys. But you had an unranked guy (Sterling) do that to the No. 6-ranked guy in the world. I don’t know. I just figure if you’re going to go by performance, you’ve got to keep it by performance.”
At the end of the day, despite not necessarily being happy with his current place with the UFC and the fact that he may be considering his options, Sterling firmly believes that he will challenge for the title in 2016:
“I could realistically see myself fighting for the belt – challenging for the belt – in 2016,” he said.
Could “The Funk Master” possibly challenge for UFC gold in the near future?