Aljamain Sterling believes that he should continue to perform in the same style that has made his fighting career successful. "Funk Master" has attributed this thought to observing Khabib Nurmagomedov's trajectory in the UFC lightweight division.
Competing for the bantamweight championship this Saturday at UFC 259 against the first-time defending champion Petr Yan, Aljamain Sterling is confident he can dethrone the Russian if he sticks to his principles.
The American-Jamaican fighter is one of the division's best grapplers. He comes to the title fight at UFC 259 on the back of five straight victories.
Speaking to RT Sport, Aljamain Sterling admitted that watching Khabib's perseverance to impose his own game has inspired him to do the same.
"Yeah, I look up to Khabib, man. Khabib is a big inspiration to my style and helping me understand that 'Yeah, a fight can be on the feet but when you're good at something, stick to what you're good at,' you know. You even hear him talk about it when DC [Daniel Cormier] fought Stipe [Miocic] the second time, saying that he should have wrestled... no, the third time, saying that he should have wrestled him more that time, but he didn't. He went for the one takedown and stuff," Aljamain Sterling said.
"And it reinforces what I already know. I'm good in this area, [Petr] Yan is best or 'better' here on paper, supposedly. It's not that I can't strike with him. I just don't throw as hard as he does. Honestly, I don't like to. That's not my style. I feel like it's a little more fatiguing to just go up there and swing the hammer, so I think for efficiency, this is a much better style for me," he concluded.
The bantamweight title fight was supposed to happen at UFC 256 in 2020, but the bout was scrapped from the card for undisclosed reasons and rescheduled for March 6, 2021.
Aljamain Sterling's gameplan to beat Petr Yan
In a recent interview with ESPN's Brett Okamoto, Aljamain Sterling revealed how he plans to defeat Petr Yan. Funk Master is confident that one successful takedown will suffice.
"I think he has been tested. I don't think he necessarily had guys constantly attacking him like a Khabib-style type of pressure, looking to get him to the ground. That changes the temper of the fight. He can try to stop the takedowns with punches as much as he wants - I just need one takedown. I could shoot a hundred times, he could stop it a hundred times, I get one takedown - the 101st takedown attempt, I get him down on his back, it's gonna be a long night for that guy," Aljamain Sterling said.