Rising bantamweight contender Aljamain Sterling has signed a new contract with the UFC.
Sterling announced the news Monday on The MMA Hour podcast (via Shaheen Al-Shatti of MMA Fighting):
Aljamain Sterling on #themmahour announces that he has re-signed with the UFC.— Shaheen Al-Shatti (@shaunalshatti) February 15, 2016
Sterling rose to fame in Cage Fury Fighting Championships, where he won the bantamweight title in 2013. He made his UFC debut at UFC 170 against Cody Gibson, taking a win by unanimous decision. His last fight came in December 2015, where he submitted Johnny Eduardo.
Per Jason Floyd of Radio Influence, Sterling revealed there was significant interest from other companies for his services:
Aljamain Sterling admits that WSOF made a strong push. Says they were number 2 to get his services— Jason Floyd (@Jason_Floyd) February 15, 2016
Marc Raimondi of MMA Fighting shared more comments from the 26-year-old, which he made during the podcast with Ariel Helwani:
I'm 100 percent happy with my decision. I think I got a better deal for myself than I would have had.
I was a little bit uneasy about it at first. I just wasn't sure exactly what was gonna happen, because you never know where you're going to end up.
You can't really put a value on the UFC name. That alone has value in itself. You go out there and say I fight for the UFC, people know exactly what that is. Ultimately, I think I made the right decision. I got some extra incentives in there. I'm happy with the decision I made.
At just 26 years old, Sterling already has two wins over ranked contenders under his belt, beating Eduardo and Takeya Mizugaki. He's regarded as a rising star in the bantamweight division, which is already filled with a number of top fighters.
Dominick Cruz is the current champion, but the likes of T.J. Dillashaw, Renan Barao and Urijah Faber don't need an introduction. Dillashaw lost a controversial split decision against Cruz in his last outing, and a rematch seems likely. Another bout against Faber is also a possibility for the champion.
Sterling isn't far from joining the group of title contenders, however, and MMA blogger Tommy Toe Hold predicted big things for the undefeated prospect:
Great job by the UFC keeping @FunkMaster_UFC on the roster. Dude's gonna be a star for sure.— Tommy Toe Hold (@TommyToeHold) February 15, 2016
With the new contract now out of the way, the grappler will look to put himself into position to fight for the title with a strong campaign in 2016.