Former bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling has signalled his interest in moving up to featherweight for his next fight, and he’s targeted a big name opponent for his divisional debut – Max ‘Blessed’ Holloway.
“March. Trynna make it Blessed,” Sterling responded to a fan on Twitter after being asked when he wants to fight again.
After three successful defenses of the bantamweight title, the 34-year-old Sterling suffered a 2nd round TKO loss to Sean O’ Malley at UFC 292 in August.
Afterwards there was some uncertainty as to whether Sterling planned to stick around at 135lbs in an attempt to reclaim the title, but with his friend and teammate Merab Dvalishvili banging on the door of title contention he appears to finally be making good on a plan to move up to 145lbs.
“Checking my weight, lean body mass vs. fat mass in my entire body, and I actually check out to be an average-sized featherweight,” Sterling said on his YouTube channel. “Which is crazy to me because every time I look at these featherweights, I think they’re so much bigger than me. It’s very interesting to see the numbers, see the data, see how my strength racks up, my endurance.
“It gave me a lot more comfort in where I’m at and making the move to 145. But, I got one other thing I want to do this next week. As of right now, my mindset is definitely leaning towards 145, for featherweight. I wanna do one more round of testing on my own.
“Psychologically, I still feel like I need to be the biggest guy because that’s just what I did at bantamweight, what I’ve done as a wrestler. Psychologically, I need to make sure I’m going to be OK where I know that when I step in there, I feel comfortable, confident that I can win and I can compete with guys in that weight class.”
It’s a fight that may well interest the 31-year-old Holloway as he’s in an awkward spot in the division at this moment in time, having beaten a who’s who of featherweight talent over the years, including a long title-reign, but having now lost all three of his title fights against current champion Alexander Volkanovski.
So Sterling would present a fresh challenge for him and a chance to add another big-name win to his impressive resume.
Of course the UFC may have other plans for both fighters so we’ll have to wait and see if we get any clarity on the matter in the coming weeks.