UFC Fight Night 80 Play: Aljamain Sterling (-700) vs Johnny Eduardo (+500)

Aljamain-Sterling-620x330UFC Fight Night 80 Date: September 10, 2015 Arena: The Chelsea City: Las Vegas, NV Bantamweight bout: Aljamain Sterling (-700) vs Johnny Eduardo (+500) Fight Breakdown: The Fight Pass preliminary card on for UFC Fight Night 80 will be featuring a bantamweight contest between Serra-Longo product Aljamain “Funkmaster” Sterling and Nova Uniao’s Johnny Eduardo. Sterling is a massive -700 ($700 to win $100) favorite over the Brazilian heading into the contest, with the return on the underdog Eduardo being +500 ($100 to win $500) at Several Bookmakerss. Aljamain Sterling (11-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) last saw action at UFC on FOX 15 eight months ago, where he earned a third round arm triangle choke victory over veteran Takeya Mizugaki, recording the biggest win of his professional mixed martial arts career. Now on a three fight winning streak inside the Octagon, he hopes to climb up the UFC’s 135-pound ladder by taking a statement against another veteran in Brazil’s Eduardo. “Aljo” is a very quick fighter who moves very well on his feet. He likes to use a lot of kicks, and has a variety of them in his arsenal. He has nice front kicks, high kicks, head kicks, a solid sidekick and great leg kicks. He loves to throw his knees out there, too. Sterling has been referred to as “the bantamweight version of Jon Jones” because of his speed, athleticism, wrestling background and versatile, flashy style of striking. The Cortland, NY native has a fine jab, good striking defense, and a solid chin. He likes to control the pace of his fights, and likes to pressure his opponents in the clinch and up against the cage, from which position he likes to implement his knees. He uses the clinch up against the cage to punish the legs and thighs of his opponents’. Sterling is a talented wrestler who possesses great speed and times his takedowns very well. He has an excellent double-leg, and often uses it to get his opponents to the mat, from which position he displays powerful top control. He has great wrestling and jiu-jitsu which helps him in the excellent transitions he makes on the mat, advancing from position to position. The 26-year old has a terrific submission game, both offensively and defensively. He owns four submission victories by rear naked choke, but his favorite go-to submission is the D’arce choke. Sterling’s takedown defense is pretty good, and when taken down, he does a very good job of working his way back to his feet. Training out of the Serra-Longo camp in Long Island under the tutelage of Matt Serra and Ray Longo, Sterling is a well-conditioned fighter who will be ready for a full 15-minutes of action against the Brazilian, if necessary. Johnny Eduardo (27-9 MMA, 2-1 UFC) racked up 11 straight wins on the Brazilian regional circuit before making his promotional debut more than four years ago. In over four years time, he has competed only three times inside the Octagon, which is less than some fighters compete in a calendar year. He took on current top ranked bantamweight Raphael Assuncao in his UFC debut and lost the bout via unanimous decision on the judges’ scorecards following three rounds of action. Eduardo’s next outinng inside the Octagon came more than eight months later, when he took on veteran Jeff Curran and defeated him via unanimous decision, picking up his first UFC win. His next fight came two years later, where he faced veteran and inaugral WEC bantamweight Eddie Wineland and knocked him out in the very first round of action, scoring a huge upset and the biggest win of his professional mixed martial arts career. It’s been a year and a half since that victory, and with injuries hopefully in his rear-view, Eduardo is ready to get back in the Octagon and make it three in a row for himself, while handing Sterling his first taste of defeat in what would be a second consecutive major upset for the Brazilian veteran. The Nova Uniao product is a very talented striker who comes from a background of Muay Thai, Karate, Kung-Fu and Tae Kwon Do. He is quick and calculated on the feet, has fast hands and vicious leg kicks, which he does not telegraph. He puts together some excellent combinations on the feet and loves to put the exclamation on them with one of those kicks. The Brazilian has good footwork, does a great job of moving around the cage and has good timing with his strikes, especially his counters. He has excellent counters and does a great job of answering with a left-hook, heavy right or a signature Nova Uniao leg kick. He also works a decent jab and possesses a brutal over-hand right. Not to mention some nice high-kicks and a decent spinning back-kick. The 35-year old has good head movement, and good striking defense, in general. His defense off his back is solid, as well, when he happens to find himself on his back, which is a position opponents often times have difficulty getting him in, as he has solid takedown defense. Though when taken down, The Brazilian does a good job of scrambling and working his way back to his feet. He does not often engage in grappling, though he does have a solid offensive submission game of his own. Gabe’s Thoughts: Even at 35 years of age and off a two year layoff, I think Eduardo is a solid bantamweight and deserving of top 15 status. Top 10, however, I’m not so sure about. In my opinion, Sterling is a Top 3 bantamweight and a future contender for the title, as long as his mouth and opinionated personality doesn’t continue to keep him sidelined, as was rumored to be the reason for his eight month layoff following his dominant, one-sided win over Mizugaki. I think “Aljo” should be a -1000 betting favorite in this contest, so even at his current heavy-juiced price of -700, I think there’s enough value in him to justify a play, especially for a leg in a parlay. Despite Eduardo being a solid 135-pound fighter, I think the Cortland, NY native picks up a win here in dominant fashion and I think it’s a coin-flip whether he earns the victory via finish or on the judges’ scorecards for a unanimous 30-27 nod. Gabe’s Call: “Aljo” by Submission (rear naked choke, 4:39 round 1) Gabe’s Recommended Parlays: 1) Sterling (-700) parlayed with Chiesa (-125) at +105 1.9u to win 2u and 2) Sterling/Eduardo Under 2.5 rounds (-105) parlayed with Chiesa/Miller Over 2.5 rounds (-180) at +200 for 1u to win 2u

Written by Gabe Killian

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