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'Funk Master' Aljamain Sterling has another nickname if need be at UFC Phoenix

When asked what his next nickname could be, 'Funkmaster' Aljamain Sterling, a UFC fighter from Uniondale, had one in mind. (Credit: Newsday / Mark La Monica)

Officially, he is known as the "Funk Master," a fighter nickname with roots in his funk style of wrestling.

But that's just one moniker in play for Aljamain Sterling, a UFC bantamweight fighter from Uniondale.

Sterling, a two-time Division III All-American wrestler at Cortland and a brown belt in Brazilian jiujitsu under Matt Serra, loves a good grapple. He's not afraid to state his plans ahead of a fight either. He'll tell you he wants to out-grapple his opponent and look for submissions.

That affinity for grappling and the ground game has led Sterling to refer to himself as the "Human Anaconda." It also has given rise to the "Human Backpack," a term often used in reference to Demian Maia (though he doesn't have an official fighter nickname). And there's also the "Human JanSport," a nod to the popular maker of backpacks.

Sterling finished his last opponent, Cody Stamann, via the rarely used Suloev Stretch kneebar, at UFC 228. It was his first submission in almost three years.

"Getting that finish, it was everything," Sterling said. "2015, man, that's a long, long time ago to be able to get out there and break out some of those 'Funk' dance moves. I felt like I was on top of the world, I felt like the sky was the limit. I felt like I was back. Vintage Aljo was back. A guy who would go out there and pride himself on finishes, choking people out by any means necessary, looking for the submission, looking for the limbs, or ground-and-pound submission."

So might Sterling (16-3, seven submissions) have a new nickname should he submit or at least control Jimmie Rivera (22-2) on the ground for the majority of their fight this Sunday at UFC Phoenix?

"I don't know, maybe the 'Human Octopus,'" Sterling said. "Because when I entangle you, it's gonna feel like I got eight arms, when really it's just four limbs."

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