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This is what is called a ‘statement win’.

Prior to his two-fight series with Petr Yan which would see him emerge as the undisputed UFC bantamweight champion, Aljamain Sterling faced a stern test of his credentials when he was paired with another surging contender, Cory Sandhagen, who came into the fight at 12-1 (5-0 in the UFC) and having never been finished in his career.

But it didn’t take long for Sterling to display why he is regarded as one of the most aggressive grapplers in the 135-pound fold. From the first bell, he poured forward and suffocated Sandhagen, not allowing his rangy opponent a single opportunity to establish his length before initiating a grappling exchange 14 seconds into the first round which would only end when Sandhagen tapped to rear-naked choke precisely 74 seconds later.

Sterling would go on to win the title in somewhat controversial circumstances against Yan in his next outing, before clearly defeating him in the rematch. His last title defence came in October where he TKO’d former champ TJ Dillashaw in the second round.

Sterling will take on the returning Henry Cejudo — another former champion — in the main event of UFC 286 in New Jersey on May 6.