Before his bout with Aljamain Sterling at Sunday’s UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas, Bryan Caraway said that a win should earn him a crack at the UFC bantamweight title. After handing the previously unbeaten Sterling his first defeat, Caraway may be on to something.
With Sterling now out of the title picture, and with Dominick Cruz soon to defend his belt against Urijah Faber, Caraway could be right in the thick of title contention.
“[Sterling was] the number-four guy and the only ones ahead of him are [T.J.] Dillashaw, Faber and [Renan] Barao, so I think I should be the next guy up for a shot at the title,” Caraway said after his decision win on Sunday. “I think this puts me in title contention. Aljamain was the only guy not fighting for a title ranked above me.”
Caraway had a scary opening round against Sterling, but his experience paid dividends in rounds two and three as he wore down the young contender until the final bell.
“I got off to a slow start. He’s obviously a good grappler himself. I was just too cautious at first,” Caraway admitted. “When you let someone get to a dominant position, he’ll take advantage. I think the theme of this fight was ‘heart over hype.’ Obviously, I clearly knew I lost the first round. I needed to switch up game plans. In round two, I imposed my will. I had to beat him at his own game.”
The buzz around Mandalay Bay Events Center was that Caraway is arguably the most deserving contender for the crown as soon as Cruz and Faber settle their differences. Caraway’s argument is valid, and after upending the favored Sterling in the featured bout on UFC Fight Pass, “Kid Lightning” believes it’s a no-brainer.
“I know my value,” Caraway declared at the close of the post-fight press conference. “I know my skill set, and I can compete with anybody in the world. I keep beating top-rated guys and I’m always the underdog.”