Sterling and Hooper will face off in a no-gi welterweight grappling match on Jan. 19 at Mubadala Arena in Abu Dhabi.
“The Funkmaster” was visibly upset after losing on points to Kevin Dantzler in the Fury Pro Grappling 8 main event less than two weeks ago, ripping the scoring system. Sterling criticized Dantzler for laying on his back but doesn’t expect Hooper to take a similar inactive approach – or at least he hopes not.
“Chase is long, he’s wiry, he’s got unorthodox attacks and things like that, so I think that’s what’s going to make him tough,” Sterling told MMA Junkie. “I don’t know how strong he is. I know he’s going up a weight class, 155 now. He beat Jordan Leavitt who’s a pretty solid grappler, someone I’ve grappled with out here in Vegas multiple times. I was pretty impressed with what he was able to do. But, yeah, I expect him to make it an entertaining match.
“I’m not expecting him to go out there and full-on wrestle me. I would like to go for some kind of submission, get some scrambles going. I just would like for it to be a high-paced, fun matchup to get people who have never watched jiu-jitsu, and they’re either fans of myself or Chase, to get them to want to tune in and buy in to see what jiu-jitsu is all about and what it can be. So, hopefully that’s what we get to give the fans.”
Former 135-pound champion Sterling makes his featherweight debut against Calvin Kattar at UFC 300 on April 13. Grappling a larger opponent in Hooper will serve as valuable prep for Sterling as he ventures into a new weight class.
“100 percent,” Sterling said. “I don’t think Calvin Kattar’s going to be as flexible as Chase Hooper and as well-versed in grappling as Chase Hooper, but I think this gives me the body type, it gives me the body weight to compete against, the height.
“So, I get to see all these different things with someone who actually knows what they’re really doing in these positions and they’re actually a threat of finishing submission moves against myself. So, this is all about getting prepped for the main goal which is UFC 300.”
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