NEWARK, N.J. - Experience and name recognition -- you know, that outside-the-octagon stuff -- favored Takeya Mizugaki heading into Saturday night against Aljamain Sterling.
But inside the UFC's octagon, where punches and kicks and grappling and everything else that goes into mixed martial arts, Sterling clearly asserted his dominance.
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Sterling, from Uniondale, remained undefeated by submitting Mizugaki via arm triangle at UFC on Fox 15 at the Prudential Center. The stoppage came at 2:11 of the third round with Sterling locking in the choke from bottom position.
"Once I felt he left his arm in there, I was like, 'Oh this is money right here, I'm going to latch on to this thing," Sterling said. "Once I felt it, I was just gonna squeeze until my arms fell off, but I heard him gurgle and I'm like, 'Yep it's on tight.'"
Sterling (11-0, 3-0 UFC) said leading up to the fight that he wanted to put the bantamweight division on notice on Saturday. He did just that by submitting the No. 7 ranked bantamweight and a recognizable name within the division.
Even Mizugaki (20-9-2, 7-4) caught wind of the 25-year-old fighter nicknamed "The Funkmaster."
"Aljamain didn't allow me to do anything I wanted or planned to do," Mizugaki said. "He really crushed my game plan."
Sterling dominated the entire bout, mixing in wrestling and feints with his unique striking techniques from different angles.
He controlled Mizugaki with a body triangle in the second round and nearly secured a submission. In the third round, Sterling got another body triangle on Mizugaki. But with the sweat of more than 12 minutes of fighting covering their bodies, Mizugaki was able to slip out. He rolled right into a waiting Sterling, who caught his arm and finished with the fight.
"We train to finish, we fight to finish," Sterling said. "There's never any holding guys, trying to stall. We're always looking to advance, trying to take guys out and let everyone know Serra-Longo is for real."
After the fight, Sterling had an ice pack on his right hip. He said he re-aggravated it in the third round against Mizugaki.