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On this day seven years ago, Aljamain Sterling was considering stepping away from the sport of MMA indefinitely.
In the following article from 2015, we revisit Aljamain Sterling’s deliberation to switch careers after being unable to find an opponent. It turns out that Sterling isn’t the only fighter who has considered retiring after going too long without an opponent.
Former UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman once said he was also considering stepping away from the sport after he was unable to find opponents during his rise through the ranks. And featherweight Zabit Magomedsharipov actually walked away, his lack of active booking being one of the reasons for his decisions.
In the end, it all worked out for Sterling. Seven years later, not only is his MMA career thriving, he is actually recognized as arguably the best bantamweight in the world as the reigning UFC Bantamweight Champion.
Next month, Aljamain Sterling’s MMA career will continue its way into the spotlight as the Funk Master defends the bantamweight title for the second time against former division champion TJ Dillashaw at UFC 280.
Unlike the following article where he considered walking away, Sterling now continues to make future plans. For example, the Funk Master recently expressed who he would like to face after his fight against Dillashaw next month.
The following article is brought to you in its original, unaltered form, courtesy of The MMA News Archives.
On this day seven years ago…
[ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER 24, 2015, 3:30 PM]
Headline: Aljamain Sterling considering hiatus from UFC career
Author: David Bixenspan
Aljamain Sterling claimed his elite bantamweight position with his submission victory over longtime 135-pound top fighter Takeya Mizugaki more than five months ago at UFC on Fox: Machida vs. Rockhold.
The number six contender in the official UFC rankings has been ready to fight for months, but matchmaker Sean Shelby has been unable to find anyone to sign to fight him.
Specifically, Brian Caraway, ranked number seven, declined the fight. He wants to fight Dec. 19 in Orlando, but nobody wants to fight him. All of this led to this:
Intentionally bad Photoshop and memetic sans serif font aside, Sterling isn’t kidding, which he explained to Marc Raimondi of MMAFighting. He is considering various options, including going back to school for a master’s degree in health when the new semester begins in January and taking a teaching job at a local high school.
“If they can’t guarantee me something sooner, unless I get hurt, I’m going to have to go back to school and do what’s best for me,” Sterling told MMA Fighting. “If that includes a layoff, then I guess I have to take a layoff and do something positive with it.”
Sterling expressed concern to Raimondi over his style, which focused on wrestling and grappling. He pointed out how he entered the Mizugaki fight unranked, overpowered a veteran ranked just outside the top five, submitted him with the first arm triangle from the bottom in a UFC fight since 1999… and n did not get a performance bonus, official or otherwise.
“For me, it was like a slap in the face. I feel like my style is not what they think people want to see, which is to go out there just swinging towards the fences and hope to get a knockdown I felt like I had put on a nice display of jiu-jitsu and shown how to strategically break someone’s feet, control them and make them feel like they didn’t have never fought before.
He remains hopeful that either Michael McDonald or Raphael Assuncao, the two top contenders returning from long injury layoffs, could fight him in December. Otherwise, he doesn’t have enough fights to make a career out of it.