Coming off an impressive performance against Petr Yan at UFC 273 back in April, Sterling has had time to sit back and watch the bantamweight division unfold. With top contenders Cory Sandhagen and Marlon Vera collecting wins this summer, Sterling provides his thoughts on UFC's ranked 135ers one month before his highly anticipated bout.
15. Jack Shore
Last Result: Submission loss vs. Ricky Simon, July 2022
"I can tell you one thing for sure; he's got some good skills. Mostly a grappler. He surely got finished but I think he can surely get back."
14. Adrian Yanez
Last Result: TKO victory vs. Tony Kelley, June 2022
"He's a heavy hitter, that guy can throw some bombs. I think he's somebody that people are going to be very interested in watching for a very long time."
Last Result: Unanimous decision victory vs. Nate Maness, June 2022
"The young eagle, the young prospect. A lot of people have a lot of hype around this guy. I think any good old fashioned American wrestling is going to be able to handle a guy like that."
12. Sean O'Malley
Last Result: No contest (accidental eye poke) vs. Pedro Munhoz, July 2022
"He's more of the hammer; we haven't seen him as the nail yet. We saw when he hurt his little leg, he kind of collapsed and went ‘night night' real quick from one shot from 'Mr. Chito.' I think he's good. but maybe the hype can be a little too much."
11. Frankie Edgar
Last Result: KO loss vs. Marlon Vera, November 2021
"I look up to a guy like that, and he's one of the guys I mirrored my style off of in the early beginning just to learn from him. (He's a) legend of the sport."
10. Ricky Simon
Last Result: Submission victory vs. Jack Shore, July 2022
"I think he really turned a new leaf and elevated his game when he got rid of that stupid mullet. I think that's what really helped turn it on for him. As soon as he cut the mullet off, his game got better exponentially."
9. Song Yadong
Last Result: TKO loss vs. Cory Sandhagen, September 2022
"I mean he knocked out Marlon Moraes. At this point, who hasn't? This is coming from a guy who's been knocked out by Marlon. I don't know if there's anything too spectacular about the guy."
8. Pedro Munhoz
Last Result: No contest (accidental eye poke) vs. Sean O'Malley, July 2022
"You get a guy like that in front of you, just know he's ain't going nowhere. … This guy is the definition of a fighter."
Last Result: KO loss vs Marlon Vera, August 2022
"Another legend of the sport. When I first watched him on the scene in the WEC, I was super blown away by his skills."
6. Rob Font
Last Result: Unanimous decision loss to Marlon Vera, April 2022
"I think he's a little one-dimensional and a I think maybe a little chinny at this point. Some of those shots man, it looked like it shouldn't have done what it did. … If he rounds out his game a bit more he can get back in the top-5 picture."
5. Marlon Vera
Last Result: KO victory vs. Dominick Cruz, August 2022
"I don't think he's a specialist in any particular area, but I think what makes him dangerous is that he's a gamer and he's willing to put it on the line when he steps in that octagon."
Last Result: TKO victory vs. Song Yadong, September 2022
"I think he's going to struggle with guys that wrestle. I think if it's a kickboxing fight, we've seen what he did to T.J. (Dillashaw). I think he still won the fight against T.J."
Last Result: Unanimous decision victory vs. Jose Aldo, August 2022
"This guy's just a bulldozer, a juggernaut. He runs through people. He will literally shoot 20 something times, he'll take you down 20 times, and he'll just let you up so he can take you down again and dump you on your ass."
"The new CEO of EPO is T.J. Dillaroids. He's a tough dude, but I don't think he's done anything in his career fairly. I really do think he's cheated for all his career. … I'm expecting him to come in there doing what he needs to do to win, which is cheat. I plan on just being the better man that night."
1. Petr Yan
Last Result: Split-decision loss vs. Aljamain Sterling, April 2022
"I think he's a smart, intellectual fighter. He's dangerous … but I think he struggles with guys who have really good footwork and can avoid his shots.
"I think he's going to be around for a while, I think we'll potentially fight for a third time, maybe even a fourth. I do think the next time we fight it's going to be a little bit different. This one, I needed to do what I needed to do to shut everybody the f-ck up."
This story first published at UFC.com.