Aljamain Sterling: “..I don’t have any real ill-will towards Miesha or Caraway….”

I recently caught up with one of the UFC’s youngest stars in Aljamain Sterling (12-0, ranked #4 in the Bantamweight division). Sterling is set to face off against #8 ranked Bryan Caraway (20-8) on May 29th,  in a fight that has been building up for quite some time now.

Both men have traded jabs on social media but it’s time for them to really throw down. This is a huge fight for this division due to so many top ranked fighters being inactive or moving to other weight classes – a win here can solidify contention if not a title shot outright.

We discussed his new contract status, what he thinks on the McGregor/UFC standoff, his thoughts on the future of Fight Pass, and his dream scenario of fighting in his home state – now that the bill was passed to legalize MMA in New York.

Do you believe the stand Conor McGregor is taking to not fight at UFC 200 (because of media obligations or compensation for it) will ultimately help all fighters? If so why is it 50/50 among fighter reactions to his statement?

I’m not sure if Conor’s stand to skip that one particular media obligation will help fighters. I don’t see any correlation there. I think the 50/50 reaction is from the different personalities of each fighter. Some guys are more outspoken and don’t mind promoting themselves, while some tend to dislike it. 

I get Conor’s angle, in doing above and beyond for promo and wanting Nate to carry the torch a lil, but you can’t get into a pissing contest with your boss. There’s a quote in a rap song, “lil money never told big money what to do!” 

When signing your new contract – was it a point of emphasis to make sure you fight more frequently (after mulling retirement for not being as active)?

Not anymore. I’ll be fighting the worlds best athletes in my weight class, for a much better pay, granted that’s as long as I win, where my pay will double. I will financially be able to make double of a teachers salary in my area, by just fighting twice. This far exceeds what I use to make for the same amount of fights. 

Make a lil more, fight the same amount, venture into other business avenues in between the downtime, coach my High School wrestlers, and enjoy the fruits of my labor. That’s a win in my book.

Do you feel like you are a part of the future UFC model for how fans see fights – with you headlining Fight Pass (With us now seeing title fights now headlining Fight Pass cards)?

Yes sir! That’s the new wave that the UFC is starting to move towards. They want to put fights on Fight Pass to help build their platform. Of course I’d love to be on TV because it’s free and everyone from my hometown will be able to watch, but I’m hoping everyone will be able to get to a CPU, hook it up on the big screen, and still watch me put on a show! 

Is it the best case scenario for you now that Miesha won the belt – in terms of trash talking Caraway leading up to the fight?

Nah, I don’t have any real ill-will towards Miesha or Caraway. This is about the challenge, and about making the guy fight and stop taking up space on the UFC roster.

What is your dream scenario for that Madison Square Garden card coming up later this year and can you also explain how you felt watching the bill get passed?

It didn’t feel real when the bill was lifted haha. I thought it was a dream. I couldn’t take in what happened until seeing all the press come out, all the pictures, and reading all the positives text messages and comments on my social media. 

It’s going down at MSG in November!! Perfect scenario would be me challenging for the belt. Hopefully the champ isn’t too banged up, and I can get after whoever it is at the Garden.