Aljamain Sterling had been begging for a fight against Jimmie Rivera, even before Dominick Cruz pulled out of that bout.
And with Sterling’s opponent, Rani Yahya, withdrawing from their Dec. 9 fight in Fresno last week, Sterling called out even louder for Rivera.
So did Marlon “Magic” Moraes.
And so here we are, with Sterling now set to face Moraes at UFC Fresno in a battle of East Coast bantamweights. Sterling, from Uniondale, trains with Serra-Longo. Moraes fights out of Toms River, New Jersey, and trains with Frankie Edgar and Mark Henry.
Moraes, the No. 7 ranked bantamweight in the UFC, is coming off a split decision win over John Dodson at UFC Fight on Nov. 11. That gives him less than a month to recover, train and prepare to fight Sterling. It will mark the third fight in the UFC for Moraes (19-5-1, 1-1 UFC) since his debut in June.
Sterling, the No. 8 bantamweight, last fought in July, winning a unanimous decision over former champion Renan Barao. It was the second straight win for Sterling (14-2, 6-2) after back-to-back losses by split decision to Bryan Caraway and Raphael Assuncao.
“The only Marlon that matters is a Wayans’ Brother,” Sterling tweeted, “and no ‘Magic’ is gonna change that!”