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Aljamain Sterling confident UFC title fight happens in December: ‘I am the next guy in line’

Aljamain Sterling has cemented himself as the No. 1 contender at bantamweight but is yet to get his crack at the championship.

Winner of his last five fights, Sterling is coming off a first-round submission of Cory Sandhagen in June at UFC 250 but was passed up for a title opportunity when Petr Yan and Jose Aldo were selected to square off for the vacant bantamweight title just a month later at UFC 251.

Yan (15-1 MMA, 7-0 UFC) stopped Aldo by TKO to become the new champion, and all signs point to his first title defense being against Sterling. Speaking recently to MMA Junkie Radio, Sterling (19-3 MMA, 11-3 UFC) provided an update on his potential title shot, saying that it’s currently being negotiated.

“I don’t know. I think we’re just figuring out contract negotiations,” Sterling said. “Your boy’s gotta get paid. I gotta get paid. I put in a lot of work.”

While UFC president Dana White has been quite hesitant to label Sterling as the clear-cut title challenger, “The Funkmaster” has no doubt that he’s the No. 1 contender and is hopeful the fight happens before the end of the year.

“I am the next guy in line. I understand what (White is) saying, if you don’t want to fight, COVID and the whole thing. Don’t fight, you don’t want to risk it, whatever,” Sterling said. “For me, I defeated COVID like 10 times already, so I’m ready to fight. Just getting in shape and hopefully it’s gonna be in December, first or second week.”

He continued, “It’s the right fight to make, and I think the people want it. There’s a lot of hype behind this one, and I can’t wait to steal that thunder.”

Yan and Sterling have been trading barbs on social media dating back to last year, but Sterling doubts that the champ is underestimating him.

“I think there’s still a respect factor there,” Sterling said. “I think he knows I’m a dangerous opponent, otherwise he wouldn’t be in Dagestan wrestling right now. … It’s gonna be a very interesting night. I want to see if he can make up for that gap in the wrestling and grappling department in a couple of short months, so I think he’s taking me serious. I’m taking him serious, and I can’t wait for the opportunity.”

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