Once a hot prospect in the UFC’s bantamweight division, Aljamain Sterling now has his back against the wall.
After falling to Bryan Caraway and Raphael Assuncao in his last UFC fights, Sterling will now take on jiu-jitsu expert Augusto Mendes at UFC on FOX 24 event in Kansas City, and Mendes is confident he’ll hand “Funk Master” his third straight defeat Saturday night.
A multiple-time champion in grappling competition, “Tanquinho” defeated Frankie Saenz in a thrilling fight earlier this year to earn his first UFC win, and he isn’t impressed by anything Sterling has done inside the Octagon.
“I don’t think I’m a good match-up for him,” Mendes told MMA Fighting. “His biggest chances are standing, but I don’t believe his striking has anything special. Most of his wins came with his wrestling and submissions, using his jiu-jitsu, and I expect him to come and wrestle me. I hope he comes for it. I truly believe he’ll move around, throw some kicks, and do pretty much what he always does.”
Even though he’s a grappling expert, Mendes says that Sterling won’t have an advantage if they are forced to trade punches and kicks in Kansas City.
“I’m not sure I’d have the advantage standing, we’ll find out when the fight starts, but looking at his striking skills, it doesn’t scare me at all,” Mendes said. “He has some strong points, some kicks, but he has no hand combinations. He plays it safe. He only used his wrestling against Raphael Assuncao in the first round because it wasn’t going well for him in the first rounds. There’s nothing there that scares me. I train with guys here that are way better than him standing.”
“Tanquinho” hasn’t even had a chance to showcase his grappling skills in the UFC yet. After being defeated by future champion Cody Garbrandt in his promotional debut on five days’ notice, Mendes welcomed a striking contest with Saenz in his last appearance, and even rocked his opponent a few times.
“If we go to the ground, I have big chances submitting him, but I see myself winning everywhere and in any way,” Mendes said. “If we stay standing, I’ll put some pressure and connect the better punches. If we go to the ground, my chances are significantly higher. What I really want is to have my hands raised in the end.”
Source:: mma fighting