Aljamain Sterling may not be on the first UFC card in the state of New York, but he’ll be on the second.
The New York native faces perennial top bantamweight contender Raphael Assuncao at UFC Fight Night 102 Dec. 9 from the Times Union Center in Albany, New York. The bout was first reported by ESPN’s Brett Okamoto.
Sterling comes into the bout looking to rebound from the first loss of his professional career. He most recently stepped into the cage at UFC Fight Night 88 in May, dropping a split — but relatively clear-cut — decision to Bryan Caraway in what was the biggest fight of his young career. Sterling, having defeated the likes of ranked contenders Johnny Eduardo and Takeya Mizugaki, was long in search for a fight against an elite contender at 135 pounds.
Now, several months removed from the loss to No. 5 Caraway, Sterling gets a shot at the division’s third-ranked contender in Assuncao.
Assuncao last fought at UFC 200 in July, dropping a decisive nod against former UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw. Prior to the loss the Brazilian had authored seven straight victories at 135 pounds, including wins over Mike Easton, Eduardo, Dillashaw and Caraway. Ranked atop the division for the better part of the past two years, Assuncao was forced to sit on the sidelines for a majority of that span with an ankle injury.
No other bouts have been announced for UFC Fight Night 101, though you can expect the UFC to bring along some more New York talent for its second trip to the Empire State.