clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Top-ranked UFC fighter may quit MMA due to low pay

Alex Trautwig/Getty Images

Top prospect and No. 6-ranked Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) bantamweight Aljamain Sterling might soon be putting pen to paper, as opposed to leather to face, if he can't find a suitable Octagon dance partner for a pending bout in December.

"The Funkmaster" is an impressive 11-0 (3-0 UFC) and last finished Takeya Mizugaki via third-round, arm-triangle choke back in April. Since then, Sterling has nearly come to blows with boxing legend Floyd Mayweather, while also hurling shots at fellow UFC contender Bryan Caraway.

It seems like everyone wants to fight "Kid Lightning" these days.

The wait for someone to step up, however, has been costly in more ways than one for the Serra-Longo Fight Team member.

As a result, Sterling has presented UFC with an interesting ultimatum.

"If they can't guarantee me something sooner, barring that I don't get injured, I'm gonna have to go back to school and just do what's best for me," Sterling told MMA Fighting. "If that includes taking a layoff, then I guess I've gotta take a layoff and actually do something positive with it."

Sterling, a 26-year-old former bantamweight Cage Fury Fighting Championship (CFFC) titleholder, is watching his money pipeline shrivel up after a fast start to his mixed martial arts (MMA) career. The increased notoriety is what he thinks may have pumped the brakes on the rush of new challengers.

Sterling's wrestling-heavy style might also play a part in UFC's matchmaking, the former believes.

"These guys need to do right by me," Sterling said. "[I] shut the guy down. I think it warrants some attention and some notoriety. I feel like my style is not what they think people want to see, which is going out there just swinging for the fences and hoping to get a knockdown. I felt like I did a beautiful display of jiu-jitsu and showed how strategically to break down somebody from the feet, control them and make them look like they never fought before."

The budding combat sports star could forgo the fighting route and pursue higher education. Sterling would preferably like to collect his Master's Degree in Health, or start a full- or part-time teaching job at a nearby high school.

He may also end up competing in jiu-jitsu tournaments and trying out for the Jamaican Olympic wrestling team.

Kudos to Sterling for his desire to leave the fight game and go back to hitting the books; however, it would be a real shame in the grand scheme of things if UFC couldn't conjure up an opponent for the streaking contender.

As it stands, former title challenger Michael McDonald and top-ranked veteran Raphael Assuncao are both planning for Octagon returns later this year. We also have the surging 20-0 Thomas Almeida, who recently extended his UFC contract.

Perhaps former 135-pound kingpin Renan Barao might be in Sterling's future?

Financial security is of the utmost importance not only to Sterling, but other fighters as well. If fighting is to remain his full-time job, it's going to have to produce more jaunts to the Octagon if he wants to be able to live comfortably later in life.

"I had my goals. I thought I was gonna break $100K in my savings. That was the end goal, the realistic goal," said Sterling. "The pay is definitely not what it is unless you're the champ or a guy that's been around the sport for a very, very, very long time. I still think I have a very promising future, but just doing the math on how much I fight, how often I fight per year, there's no way I'm gonna be able to make a significant amount of money where I can put it aside to do something when I'm done."

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Mania Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Mania