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Johnny Eduardo vows to break Aljamain Sterling’s jaw ‘like I did to Eddie Wineland’

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Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Johnny Eduardo scored one of the best knockouts of the year in 2014, and wants to steal the show against Aljamain Sterling.

Sidelined for over a year due to injuries, the Nova Uniao bantamweight takes on the undefeated Serra Jiu-Jitsu prospect in the preliminary portion of Thursday’s UFC Fight Night 80, and feels happy to be back in action facing another top ranked opponent.

"I’m excited with this opportunity to fight another top 10," Eduardo told MMAFighting.com. "He’s a good fighter, but his best part is his mouth. He talks a lot. He knows how to sell and promote a fight, different than other fighters."

But even though he praises Sterling’s abilities to promote himself, Eduardo thinks his opponent has crossed a line, and will pay for it inside the Octagon at The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan.

"He’s doing it in a way that isn’t pleasant," said the Brazilian. "He’s trying to get inside my head, attacking me with insane attitudes. We try to sell a fight, but always in a polite way. We have to respect our opponents. He’s just getting me more and more excited to go there and break his jaw, like I did with Eddie Wineland.

"Everything he says is funny to me," he continued. "When can see when a fighter is scared of the other. It’s clear in the fight. He’s showing how scared and nervous he is, how insecure he is, and is trying to get inside my head."

Unbeaten in 11 professional fights, Sterling is 3-0 under the UFC banner with a pair of third-round finishes over Takeya Mizugaki and Hugo Viana followed by a decision win over Cody Gibson. Eduardo, who holds a 27-9 record with 20 finishes, believes his opponent is a bit overrated.

"I don’t think he’s that aggressive," Eduardo said. "Everything he does standing is to try to confuse his opponents. His strongest weapon is his wrestling, but his striking is average. He’s not a knockout artist. He plays a lot to confuse his opponents and take the fight where he wants. But I’m excited to fight him."

Fighting in Las Vegas for the first time in 19 years as a professional mixed martial artist, Eduardo isn’t going to Sin City for fun.

"Las Vegas is the biggest stage, the world cup of MMA," he said. "This opportunity came in the right time, against the right opponent. The UFC expected me to lose to Eddie Wineland, and now they see me with different eyes.

"I’m happy to be fighting in Las Vegas. I’m not here to have fun in the city, to walk around and take pictures, to say ‘oh, I’m a UFC fighter’. I came here to beat someone up, watch my friends’ fights and go back home."