Maybe you’ve noticed it. I certainly have. The skinny bantamweight steadily notching wins in the Octagon, hyped as a top talent out of the regional scene and that innate talent gradually showing itself until the masses and pundits are amazed with each slick submission win. Yeah, I’m talking about Aljamain Sterling, who, in four UFC appearances has taken out the likes of Cody Gibson, Hugo Viana, the veteran Takeya Mizugaki, and most recently Johnny Eduardo.

And now Sterling’s UFC contract is up, and he’s testing the free market, discerning his worth by fielding offers from other organizations and either taking those offers or using them for leverage to force the UFC to *cue Cuban Gooding Jr.* “SHOW ME THE MONEY!”

It would all be academic and something behind the scenes, this negotiation process, if not for “Aljo” making it all very public.

You see, there was a point somewhere this past year where Sterling took control of his future. It was the day he stopped being a tourist in the UFC and started acting like it was his home.

I haven’t quite pinpointed when exactly¬†that happened.

It was before the appearance of his thick gold chain and image as some sort of a hip-hop warrior. Before all his brash confidence and talk on social media and Bryan Caraway call outs. It was probably around when he started voicing his displeasure with UFC pay and floated the idea he’d quit the sport and go back to school. But maybe it was before then, too. Regardless, it happened, and here we are, a rising star in the bantamweight division who could conceivably fight for the belt after a couple more wins or rule the roost in Bellator.

Here we are, with Sterling trying to embroil Raphael Assuncao into a feud:


It’s brilliant, really. Fans are more aware of, and care more about, what happens to Sterling than ever before. Conor McGregor showed the way with his talking the talk and walking the walk, and now Sterling is doing the same.

What do you think – has Sterling done what it takes to make you want to see him stay in the UFC?