Sometimes hype is earned, sometimes it’s just a function of some really good words. For Aljamain Sterling, his hype was earned on the regional scene, where he was a killer rich with talent (I know; I was there for his local fights). Then, after amassing some wins in the Octagon, “Aljo” began to spew those really good words. Too bad he lost his next two fights – against top tier competitors – via narrow split decisions.
So it was that Sterling came into UFC on FOX 24’s Fight Pass prelim “main event”, needing to get back on track, while his opponent, jiu-jitsu black belt Augusto Mendes and two-time UFC vet, just needed to look like he belonged.
Striking has never been Sterling’s strongest area (he doesn’t like getting hit), but Round 1 opened with him swinging and missing and Mendes firing back with kicks. Instead, Sterling gets the takedown, and after some time on the floor, Mendes scores a knockdown and goes for a sub. The ensuing scramble ends with Sterling on time, raining down punches before the clock runs out.
The American’s punches begin to land in the second, and after a tie-up, Mendes eventually gets Aljo down, albeit briefly. They continue grinding on each other, and in the final moments of the round, Sterling gets another takedown and drops some more leather.
Round 3 sees those punches land and wobble Mendes – finally – and then they’re tying up. Eventually, the ref breaks them up, but nothing that special happens, making this round even closer then the two previous.
Results: Aljamain Sterling def. Augusto Mendes via Unanimous Decision