Aljamain Sterling improved to 8-0 as a professional at CFFC 30. | Keith Mills/Sherdog.com
Cage Fury Fighting Championships’ third event in 14 days was highlighted by the continued rise of highly-touted prospect Aljamain Sterling, who retained his bantamweight title with a first-round submission of Joel Roberts in Valley Forge, Pa., on Saturday night.
In a scramble right after the opening bell, the champ found himself on his back due to what he’d later call a slip following a kick gone astray. Sterling managed to turn a precarious position into one of strength, however, as “Funk Master” worked to take Roberts’ back after being up against the cage. Sterling then flattened Roberts out and latched on to a rear-naked choke to score a submission win 1:49 into the opening round.
“I train with the best guys in grappling,” Sterling told Sherdog.com after the fight. “If I’m getting submitted and [defending submissions against] the guys at Matt Serra’s gym, those guys are high-level grapplers. I’m confident going against any of these guys in the world. It’s not cocky. It’s just confidence. You have to have that going into your fights. Know that you can get out of any bad situation because that was a bad situation, but I didn’t look at it like that.”
The recent change in camps from Team Bombsquad to the Serra-Longo Fight Team represents the next evolution in a still-evolving game for the 24-year-old Sterling. Crediting his new team for what he calls positive reinforcement only fuels speculation as to when Sterling will be the next big prospect to sign with the UFC.
“I think I have a ton of potential still,” Sterling said. “I got to show a little of my standup today. I was more open than I was in my fight with [Sidemar Honorio]. This fight I told myself there’s nothing to lose. I’m the one coming back from the surgery, the long layoff. I’m expected to come in and have a lot of question marks. So I said just go out there and have fun.”
In the co-main event, Bellator veteran Darrell Horcher mixed striking with takedowns to outpoint Mike Medrano. Horcher kept the more compact Medrano on the end of his punches through two rounds and put him on the mat whenever he did get close.
Medrano was finally able to put Horcher on his back, but it was too little too late. Horcher came away with a unanimous decision, earning 29-28 tallies from all three cageside judges to rebound from a loss to Phillipe Nover in his most recent Bellator appearance.
“For all you guys who thought I had no ground game, sorry,” Horcher said.
In what amounted to a showcase bout at flyweight, Travis Wynn earned a TKO victory via doctor stoppage against Christian Rodriguez after two rounds. A nondescript first round became the Wynn show in the ensuing frame. The man dubbed as “The Total Package” went after Rodriguez from the opening bell, putting him on the mat and swarming him with punches time and again. Prior to round three, doctors stopped the bout for what looked to be a dislocated shoulder for Rodriguez.
In featherweight action, Soslan Abanokov put on a clinic against Chip Gerber. Over the course of three rounds Abanokov got the better of the striking exchanges and kept Gerber on his back. Going into the third, already up 20-18 on Sherdog.com’s scorecard, Abanokov opened up a cut on Gerber’s right eye. It was deemed enough to force referee Gasper Oliver to stop the bout at 1:05 mark of the third.
In the first professional bout on the card, Eric Roncoroni earned a technical knockout victory over Alec Hooben, wobbling then stopping his opponent with a couple of big left hands in the opening stanza.
Five amateur bouts began the evening: Katlyn Chookagian took a unanimous verdict [30-27, 30-27, 30-27] over Janice Meyer at bantamweight; Sharif Jones outpointed James Jordan [30-27, 30-27, 30-27] at welterweight; Allen Otto stopped Steve Romanides with punches 20 seconds into round two; and Dave Roberts knocked out Scott Dirkson 22 seconds into round one.