UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling was an interested observer as Marlon Vera defeated Rob Font in a main event cracker at UFC on ESPN 35 on Saturday. And, after praising “Chito” for his victory, he turned his attention to his next title fight in the octagon.
Speaking to ESPN’s Megan Olivi backstage at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Sterling paid tribute to Vera’s performance as he outpointed Font over the full five-round main event duration to score the biggest win of his UFC career.
“I thought it was a phenomenal fight, especially displaying striking from both guys,” he said.
“Man, Chito’s defence held up a lot better than I thought it would, because Rob was landed some good shots, but he was able to shell up and not absorb too much damage. Rob was wearing it more.
“I think when Rob was pressuring forward Chito was doing a good job of kind of rolling with the punches a little bit, getting out of the way, utilising those calf kicks early.”
But while Sterling was full of praise for Vera’s performance, he did highlight one glaring omission from the fight that could prove crucial if Vera ended up standing across the cage from him in the future.
“The one thing I will point out was, it was an all-striking affair,” he said.
“So you factor in a guy like myself or Merab (Dvalishvili), it’s a big difference when we make it an MMA fight and not just a kickboxing match.”
Sterling is in the process of discussing his next title defence with the UFC brass, and said he has three names on his hit list.
“I said T.J. (Dillashaw), (Henry) Cejudo, (Jose) Aldo. So, whichever one,” he said.
“I know we’ve got to have a dinner with Hunter and Sean Shelby and Dana and iron out some things and see what’s the next fight on the horizon.
“If I had to pick, I would like to punch T.J. in the face. The guy has been dirty for a very long time and I would like to right that wrong and get that guy out of this company.”