Aljamain Sterling's path to a featherweight title if he wins at UFC 300

Here's what Aljamain Sterling needs to do if he wants to become UFC featherweight champion.
UFC 273: Volkanovski v The Korean Zombie Zombie
UFC 273: Volkanovski v The Korean Zombie Zombie / James Gilbert/GettyImages

Aljamain Sterling is preparing for a new venture in the Octagon. Renowned for his dominant performances in the UFC bantamweight division, Sterling has held records for the most wins and consecutive victories, along with the most consecutive title defenses in the UFC bantamweight division. However, it is noteworthy that all his accomplishments have been achieved in the 135-pound weight class. His upcoming bout, scheduled for UFC 300 against Calvin Kattar, marks a departure from his usual weight class, as it will be contested in the 145-pound weight division.

After over a decade with the UFC and 19 fights under the promotion's banner, Sterling is undoubtedly capable of being fully fit and focused. His resume includes victories over several elite bantamweight competitors, including Petr Yan, TJ Dillashaw, Henry Cejudo, Cory Sandhagen, and others. But now, the question arises, what steps does he need to take to earn an opportunity for the featherweight title?

The UFC featherweight division recently experienced a shocking shift when Ilia Topuria defeated long-reigning champion Alexander Volkanovski. The former champion was widely regarded as one of the division's greatest fighters and undoubtedly has aspirations of securing a rematch and reclaiming the throne. However, Volkanovski is not the only contender in the division eyeing the title. Several other formidable challengers are also eyeing to take the belt away from Topuria.

On the night of April 13, should Sterling emerge victorious in his featherweight debut against the 8th-ranked featherweight, Calvin Katter, Sterling will likely issue challenges to some of the division's top contenders. Given his status as a former bantamweight champion and a seasoned UFC veteran, Dana White may also prioritize securing matchups for Sterling to pursue his aspirations of becoming a two-division champion.

Following back-to-back defeats against Volkanovski and Brian Ortega, it appears that Yair Rodriguez, the former interim featherweight champion, will take a break to return to the Octagon rejuvenated. Similarly, Arnold Allen, despite an impressive streak of 10 consecutive victories, suffered defeats in his last two fights against Max Holloway and Movsar Evloev. Holloway, on the other hand, has ventured into a higher-weight class and is scheduled to challenge Justin Gaethje for the BMF title.

Who should Aljamain Sterling call out if he wins at UFC 300?

All these factors leave us with three potential fighters whom Sterling could fight next: Josh Emmett, Brian Ortega and Movsar Evloev.

Emmett, currently ranked No. 7 in the division, rebounded with a victory over Bryce Mitchell at UFC 296 after suffering two successive losses to Topuria and Rodriguez. Despite being 39 years old, Emmett would likely welcome a matchup against a newcomer to the division like Sterling. However, unless Sterling delivers a dominant performance, the UFC may require him to further prove himself against at least one more featherweight contender. 

Next up would be Ortega, who previously challenged Holloway and Volkanovski for the title but fell short. Fresh off a victory against Rodriguez, Ortega would find a fight against Sterling intriguing as well, considering he too would get another shot at the title soon against Topuria if he wins comfortably.

Last but not least, Evloev, the undefeated featherweight prospect, presents solid reasons to be called out by Sterling. If Sterling truly wants to speed up the process of becoming a featherweight title contender, facing Evloev, the No. 5-ranked fighter in the division, would indeed be a challenge he'd take.

Considering that Topuria, the reigning champ, has already defeated Emmett, and Ortega has missed his opportunities before, Evloev would be the most realistic and viable callout for Sterling if he wants to pursue the featherweight title in the quickest possible time. 


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