Aljamain Sterling’s style might not exactly be crowd-pleasing, but it’s proven to be effective.
The bantamweight competitor’s UFC Phoenix prelim bout against Jimmie Rivera was booed at several points by the crowd at Talking Stick Resort Arena on Sunday night, but Sterling stuck to what he does best.
Sterling used a combination of grappling and strategic striking to earn a unanimous decision victory on scores of 30-27 across the board.
Sterling went to implement his wrestling game from the get-go, but Rivera denied each of his takedown attempts over the course of the opening round. That included a sequence in which he lifted Rivera into the air for a slam, but Rivera somehow shifted his weight and landed on his feet before he the slam could be completed.
Rivera, however, appeared a bit gun-shy in the standup, always on his heels, and never quite able to get his offense untracked. Sterling outstruck Rivera by a more than 2-to-1 margin over the course of the fight. Rivera did pick up the pace somewhat in the third, but it was much too little, too late.
Sterling (17-3) has now won three straight and is 5-3 in his past eight. Rivera (22-3) has dropped two of his past three fights.