Aljamain Sterling wows fans with win over Chase Hooper at ADXC

Former UFC bantamweight champion says 2024 is his year as he looks to move up to featherweight

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Aljamain Sterling lived up to his top billing by winning the headline welterweight grappling contest over fellow American Chase Hooper in the Abu Dhabi Extreme Championship 2 at the Mubadala Arena on Friday.

The former UFC bantamweight champion dominated the five-round, three-minute contest, but was left baffled when it was announced as a split decision.

Hooper displayed his jiu-jitsu skills with rolls attacking his opponent’s legs, triangle attacks, and unorthodox switches and moves, however, Sterling negated all of them with takedowns and reach side control and mounting on different occasions throughout the contest.

“I thought I won it unanimous, but it's jiu-jitsu,” Sterling said soon after the verdict.

“I understand the submission attempt, so I got to look at it again and pass off to Hooper. And I look forward to coming back here and beating some more opponents.”

Hooper, 24, and 10 years Sterling's junior, moved like an octopus with his longer limbs and 1.85m height.

“Man, Hooper did some good stuff, and I expected that,” Sterling, who stands at 1.7m, said.

“You know, he was the bigger guy coming into this, and I'm trying to transition going up a weight class, so what better way to test my skills and see how good of a grappler I truly am for MMA and for a competition BJJ [Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu] than going against a guy like that.

“It's hard to pass him up top because he's so long. He's able to throw his legs up top because he's so long. He's able to throw his legs over the top.

“I had a, what I thought was a beautiful pass and he was able to throw his legs up and off balance me a bit and come back to a very solid position.

“So I had to do what I know best is the wrestling lockout, lower leg passes. And even then, he did a good job of covering the mouth, framing, staying long. And I just try to do what I can do best and look for my opportunities when they present themselves.”

Sterling, who has an 23-4 win/loss MMA career record, will make the move up to featherweight at UFC300 where he is set to square off with Calvin Kattar in April.

“Hopefully 2024 is my year and make my way to another title shot to become the division champion,” said Sterling.

In the co-main middleweight jiu-jitsu contest, Bruno Lima avenged his 2020 European title loss to Manuel Ribamar with a unanimous decision over the Brazilian.

“It may have looked easy but it was a very hard match,” the Portuguese said. “If you see it again, you will see every time he had a good position, I escaped. Every time I had a good position, he survived because the time ended.

“I’m so thankful to jiu-jitsu in my life, I’m so thankful to UAE for making dreams come true, thank you so much, I love you.”

The UAE's Mohammed Al Suwaidi took a unanimous decision over South Korea's Joo Seonghyeon in the lightweight grappling contest but Omar Al Suwaidi suffered a split decision against Scott Shay Montague in the jiu-jitsu lightweight match.

Results:

Featherweight – jiu-jitsu:

Yaroslav Rymashevki (RUS) beat Alinur Kuatuly (KAZ) by unanimous decision

Lightweight – grappling:

Mohammed Al Suwaidi (UAE) bt Joo Seonghyeon (KOR) by unanimous decision

Featherweight – jiu-jitsu (female):

Emily Ferreira (USA) bt Yara Kakish (JOR) by submission via arm bar

Welterweight – grappling:

Matus Arpas (SVK) bt Ahmed Amir (EGY) by unanimous decision

Flyweight – jiu-jitsu:

Shay Montague (SCO) bt Omar Al Suwaidi (UAE) by split decision

Heavyweight – grappling:

Pouya Rahmani (IRN) bt Denzel Freeman (USA) by unanimous decision

Lightweight – jiu-jitsu:

Gabriel Souza (BRA) bt Yuta Shimada (JPN) by unanimous decision

Welterweight – grappling:

Sidney Outlaw (USA) bt Terrance McKinney (USA) by submission via rear naked choke

Welterweight – jiu-jitsu:

Talison Costa (BRA) bt Ali Monfaradi (BHR) by split decision

Catchweight 88kg – grappling:

Rinat Fakhretdinov (RUS) bt Douglas Lima (BRA) by unanimous decision

Welterweight – jiu-jitsu:

Espen Mathiesen (NOR) bt Pablo Lavaselli (ARG) by split decision

Catchweight 58kg – grappling (female):

Ffion Davies (WAL) bt Luana Pinheiro (BRA) by submission via rear naked choke

Co-main event, middleweight – jiu-jitsu:

Bruno Lima (POR) bt Manuel Ribamar (BRA) by unanimous decision

Main event, welterweight – grappling:

Aljamain Sterling (USA) v Chase Hooper (USA) by split decision

Updated: January 20, 2024, 8:37 AM