Sterling eyes more fights in Abu Dhabi after big win

The much anticipated main event of the evening saw both UFC fighters engage in intense takedowns and submission attempts


Ashwani Kumar

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Aljamain Sterling celebrates his win. — Supplied photo
Aljamain Sterling celebrates his win. — Supplied photo

Published: Mon 22 Jan 2024, 8:09 PM

Abu Dhabi has turned out to be a happy hunting ground for Aljamain Sterling. The 34-year-old former UFC bantamweight champion dominated fellow American Chase Hooper to clinch the grappling welterweight division at the second Abu Dhabi Extreme Championship.

The much anticipated main event of the evening saw both UFC fighters engage in intense takedowns and submission attempts.

“Hooper did some good stuff and I expected that. He was the bigger guy coming into this. I’m trying to transition, going up a weight class, so what better way to test my skills than to see how good of a grappler I truly am for MMA and competition like BJJ than going against a guy like that,” Sterling said after five rounds of the three-minute no-gi bout, which he won in a split decision.

Apart from his successful grappling encounter at the Mubadala Arena, Sterling has sweet memories in the Capital when he defended his bantamweight belt by defeating T.J. Dillashaw at UFC280.

“I look forward to coming here again and beating more opponents,” Sterling said.

In the co-main event, Bruno Lima from Portugal knocked out Manuel Ribamar in their jiu-jitsu middleweight bout.

Lima, the gold winner of the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship 2023, thanked UAE for making him realise his dreams.

“I have been preparing myself all my life. Not much has happened. It’s like when you put a seed in the soil, nothing much happens, and then a tree grows, and eventually, it gives fruits. Now I am eating the fruit, and it’s very nice but a very long, long journey.”

Emirati fighter shines

In the prelims card, Mohammed Al Suwaidi proved his mettle with a decisive win over South Korean Seonghyeon Joo and became the first Emirati champion since the tournament was introduced.

In a gripping three-round showdown in the lightweight category, Al Suwaidi showcased exceptional skills that led to a unanimous decision.

“It was a wonderful experience to step into the cage for the first time. I have put in a great effort during a month and a half of training with expert coaches in grappling and jiu-jitsu,” Al Suwaidi underlined.

In a well-stacked card, one standout bout was Ffion Davies of Wales flooring Brazilian Luana Pinheiro by submission in just 51 seconds of the first round making it the fastest match of the tournament.

“The whole experience has been very unreal. The whole setup was literally professional and amazing, so I want to be back for sure,” Davies noted.

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