ANAHEIM, Calif. — Aljamain Sterling scored the biggest victory of his career on Saturday night.
The Long Island native met former UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao in a 140-pound catchweight bout Saturday night at UFC 214. Sterling fought aggressively from the jump and earned a unanimous decision on scores of 29-28, 29-27, and 30-26.
In the opening round, Sterling slipped, but still managed to work Barao into a sloppily executed kneebar. Barao rolled out of it and into top position, making the round competitive.
Sterling took command of the fight in the second. Barao briefly dropped Sterling and got an a standing anaconda. But Sterling used his striking to set up a takedown and a rare Suelov stretch. While Barao escaped that, Sterling put on a dominant show of top control over the remainder of the round.
In the third, Sterling appeared to have more gas left in the tank, as he pushed forward and landed bigger strikes. Barao went for broke at the end, though, scoring a takedown and working for a submission until the horn.
Sterling improved to 14-2 with his second straight victory, while Barao (34-5, 1 NC) has dropped three of his past four.
The UFC attempted to book this as a bantamweight bout. But the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) refused to allow it. The last time Barao was scheduled to fight in the state, at UFC 177 in Sacramento, Barao was hospitalized due to a weight cut gone awry the day before he was scheduled to rematch T.J. Dillashaw for the title.