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UFC champ Aljamain Sterling praises Jose Aldo’s win over Rob Font, but promises ‘I have the tools’ to beat him

UFC 259: Yan v Sterling Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling had a front row seat to watch Jose Aldo pull off another incredible win as as the Brazilian defeated Rob Font in the UFC Vegas 44 main event on Saturday night.

While his focus remains on unfinished business with interim champ Petr Yan in 2022, Sterling is keeping a close eye on Aldo now that he’s won three straight fights, making the former featherweight kingpin a legitimate threat to the 135-pound title.

The New York native praised Aldo for what he managed to do over five rounds after a slow start saw Font come charging out of the gates early only to run into a Brazilian buzzsaw for the majority of their 25 minutes in the cage together.

“I thought it was a phenomenal performance,” Sterling said about Aldo on the UFC Vegas 44 post-fight show. “I was doing my breakdown with my podcast and trying to figure out which Jose Aldo was going to show up tonight. I think we got the questions answered. Cause three round Jose Aldo is a nightmare for anybody in this division. We saw it with Pedro Muhnoz, we saw it with [Marlon] ‘Chito’ Vera. Five rounds, he tends to struggle a little bit. [Max] Holloway fights, a couple of the other ones, even going back to the WEC days with Mark Hominick.

“So for him to come out and perform like that for five rounds compared to what he did against Petr Yan, this was night and day. I think he’s still getting better, still proving that he’s one of the top dogs in this division. I’m super excited cause this division is super hot right now. There’s guys for everyone to fight and I think even outside the top 15, this division is just way too deep.”

Sterling felt like if Aldo was going to win that he would need to put damage on Font early in the fight to either get the finish, or win enough rounds to stave off a potential comeback. As it happened, Aldo needed a late knockdown to prevent losing a lopsided opening round, but from there, he really took over with a power striking offense that had Font in trouble multiple times.

“I figured it would start with Jose Aldo winning early and then Rob Font kind of turning it on later on and really putting the paces on him,” Sterling said. “It kind of turned out to be the opposite.

“Font turned it on early, Jose kind of weathered an early storm and then started to find his shots. Landed that beautiful cross that dropped him. From there it just kind of turned into the Jose Aldo show for the rest of the night.”

While he’s best known for his striking arsenal, Aldo also managed to repeatedly control Font on the ground during a few grappling exchanges in the fight. He was methodical with his grappling as he peppered Font with strikes, constantly seeking to improve his position without allowing himself to suffer any kind of reversal. He even managed a near submission in the final round, though Font was able to stave off the rear naked choke in order to make it to the final horn.

That said, as much as Aldo looked the part of a future title contender, Sterling promised that he wasn’t losing any sleep about another challenger trying to come for the gold belt around his waist.

“I know how to escape,” Sterling said when addressing Aldo’s grappling. “He’s not going to hold me there for the entire round and again, he’s a black belt, he’s a legend, he’s done what he’s done in the history books for a reason. But I do believe I have the tools to beat any one of these guys in the bantamweight division.

“I think myself and Merab [Dvalishvili] are just going to run through everybody.”

First things first: Sterling has to get past Yan with that rematch expected to take place in early 2022. Aldo, meanwhile, has already called out former champion T.J. Dillashaw for a potential No. 1 contender’s fight.