Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight division is exciting, but it could really use an injection of depth to prevent staleness at the top of the division's ranks.
Of course, that's certainly easier said than done; however, with an infusion of promising prospects, there is always something to look forward to, which is the case tonight (Weds., July 16, 2014) when Aljamain Sterling takes to the cage at UFC Fight Night 45.
The former Division III All-American wrestler boasts strong fundamentals, as well as a great team, to back him up as he moves on to bigger, more intimidating fights like the one he is faced with later this evening at Revel Casino in Atlantic City, N.J., against battle-tested Hugo Viana.
First coming onto the scene out of the Bomb Squad training center, which also trained Jon Jones in his early days, Sterling has now aligned with the Serra-Longo squad. Producing great fighters like Chris Weidman, among others, there is no doubt that this is one of the best fight teams with which to work as a prospect.
Along his way as a growing fighter, Sterling has shown that he is polishing his game in every aspect. Indeed, complementing his wrestling base with solid Brazilian jiu-jitsu has allowed him to get four submission wins as a mixed martial arts (MMA) professional. His striking game has also grown by leaps and bounds, which makes him a threat in every department.
And that is the type of development you'd like to see in a fighter with high aspirations.
represents a tough challenge for Sterling, but certainly one who is far from unbeatable. Viana's striking -- even with his Taekwondo background -- is not all too technical. And I'm fairly confident that Sterling will be the markedly better grappler in this fight.
Sterling is a very good athlete, and I can see him doing very well in this match, possibly even grabbing a submission at some point if he can find the right opportunity.
With young fighters such as Michael McDonald, Erik Perez and Alex Caceres already finding themselves within the Top 15 of the weight class, the foundation is there for a breed of quickly improving, well-rounded young fighters to come through the 135-pound division.
Sterling is one of the most exciting prospects not only in the Bantamweight division, but in UFC as a whole. His athleticism, as well as a strong background, great camp and improving fundamentals will carry him far.
And so long as he puts in the hard work necessary, he could be a contender in this division sooner rather than later. That journey can either start or end tonight near a South Jersey boardwalk.