Aljamain Sterling has been doing his best to climb the ranks, and other than a loss to Bryan Caraway, has been doing well in that regard. Raphael Assuncao has long been a badass and top-ranked dude, but the Brazilian has had to deal with injuries that have sidelined him for much of his career. Put these two together and what do you have?
A prolonged kicking contest is what you have. Starting in Round 1, Sterling looks to use his ridiculously long legs to hit Assuncao from halfway across the cage. It seems like a good tactic, but there isn’t much else to it, and in no time Assuncao is wading in and countering with his superior boxing. It is, however, a close affair, with Assuncao’s best strike a kick to the nuts that has “Aljo” taking a couple minutes to regain his composure.
More of the same happens in Round 2 – including the nutshot – although Assuncao is scoring even more with his hands, and at one point catches the American off-balance with a punch to the shoulder.
As usual though, Sterling comes on strong late, and spends all of Round 3 stalking, backing Assuncao up with combinations. The difference is Sterling’s willingness to take risks, and it definitely gives him the round. Too bad this mindset came two rounds too late.
Results: Raphael Assuncao def. Aljamain Sterling via Split Decision