Aljamain Sterling showed what positive thinking can do in his unanimous decision over Bret Johns at UFC Fight Night 128 on Saturday in Atlantic City, New Jersey. It was the 28-year-old New Yorker’s first appearance since a brutal knockout loss to Marlon Moraes in December. The powerful knee that finished him was particularly concerning because it separated him from his senses, removed him from the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s bantamweight title race and resulted in an indefinite medical suspension.
However, Sterling once again vowed that he would not dwell in the past and would instead focus on the road to redemption. When the Serra-Longo Fight Team standout was felled by Moraes’ knee, he was quick to join fans in making light of the manner in which he was finished. Better yet, he was eager to prove that he could correct his flaws in advance of his showdown with Johns, a former Titan Fighting Championship and Cage Warriors Fighting Championship titleholder who entered the cage with a 15-0 record.
Sterling documented his path to UFC Fight Night 128 in a “Road Back to Redemption” video blog. The theme: A positive mindset and hard work would put him where he needed to be in the UFC. Three months after he was cleared to train again, Sterling countered and controlled Johns across three rounds. It was as if he never left. Sterling remained calm and exercised patience whenever he had the upper hand against the Welshman, steering clear of any potential traps.
Afterward, Sterling turned his attention toward a bantamweight icon: Dominick Cruz. “It’s time,” he said, “for the idols to become the rivals.”
Edward Carbajal serves as the lead MMA analyst for Frontproof Media and holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and a brown belt in Ishin Ryu Karate. He has covered combat sports since 2014 and has been a fan of MMA since UFC 1. You can follow him on Twitter @Carbazel or at his website TheBlogBoardJungle.com.