MMA Record: 14-3
UFC Record: 6-3
Notable Wins: Renan Barao, Johnny Eduardo
Notable Losses: Marlon Moraes, Bryan Caraway, Raphael Assuncao
Last Fight: KO loss to Marlon Moraes
Fighter Profile: One of the top bantamweights in the UFC, Sterling started off his UFC career with four-straight wins and was looking like a future champion with his impressive grappling game. But back-to-back losses to Caraway and Assuncao threw a wrench into that, and Sterling had to get back on the horse. He did just that, defeating the former champ Barao and Augusto Mendes to re-emerge as a contender at 135lbs. But a KO loss to Moraes his last time out hurt him. Sterling is still a good fighter, but we’ve seen his flaws in the Octagon and he will need to improve on those parts of his game if he really wants to make another run for the belt. He doesn’t have an easy fight here against Johns, and a loss would hurt him bad, though a win would put him back into the title picture, making this is a must-win fight for “The Funkmaster.”
MMA Record: 15-0
UFC Record: 3-0
Notable Wins: Joe Soto
Notable Losses: None
Last Fight: Submission win over Joe Soto
Fighter Profile: Johns was the former Titan FC bantamweight champion and has looked amazing since coming to the UFC, going undefeated in his first three fights in the Octagon. Johns is coming off of a huge win via the rarely-seen calf slicer over a tough vet in Soto in his last fight and is riding a crazy amount of momentum into this contest. He has a well-rounded game overall with terrific submission skills and improving striking and at only 26 is still getting better. I think Johns has all the skills it takes to be a champion in this sport, and now we’ll see how the Welshman fares when he goes against Sterling this weekend.
Fight Breakdown: This is a fun matchup as both guys are young, well-rounded fighters in the UFC’s deep bantamweight division. Having said that, I favor Johns here to get the nod. He’s an undefeated fighter who doesn’t know what it feels like to lose yet and he has so much momentum coming into this fight considering he just tapped out Soto with a calf slicer. Sterling, meanwhile, took this fight not too long after getting brutally knocked out by Moraes. Sterling is a grappling-first fighter but Johns should have the grappling chops to negate any of the advantages in the wrestling Sterling might have, and on the feet I give Johns the edge as well. I just feel like Johns is going to be a bit too much for Sterling in this fight and I see him outpointing his opponent for the biggest win of his young UFC career to date.
Prediction: Brett Johns by decision