Aljamain Sterling sees just another number by the name Takeya Mizugaki ahead of their bantamweight bout this Saturday night at UFC on FOX 15.
Sterling and Mizugaki will be open up the prelims on FOX from the Prudential Center in New Jersey.
Originally, Sterling (10-0) was going to fight veteran Manny Gamburyan at the card. However, when an injury knocked Gamburyan out, the sixth-ranked Mizugaki (20-8-2) agreed to step in.
When the 25-year-old former two-time Div. III All-American wrestler heard about the fight change, he didn’t sweat it, telling FightLine, “my thoughts were that the UFC was ready to introduce the ‘Funk’ to a bigger audience and show everyone what I can do.
“It’s just big in rankings, but that’s it. Just a change in a number. My team and I will be ready and no one will boo.”
Sterling admitted that he the only hesitation he felt in regards to accepting Mizugaki as a replacement in regards to promoting the bout, saying “I wanted to fight one more time to build momentum before a top-notch fight like this,” saying he feels that the bout is “not getting the press and push it deserves.
Since debuting in the UFC last year, Sterling has scored a decision over Cody Gibson and a third round TKO vs. Hugo Viana.
“I’m unranked so maybe that’s why (there’s been less talk),” he said. “Sometimes, opportunities come when we least expect it. It’s up to you to be ready.
“As (NFL superstar Marshawn) Lynch would say, ‘You know why I’m here!'”
Despite all that, being a native of the East Coast and with the chance to compete presented to him in front of family and friends, Sterling plans to “come alive in the night-time.
“When those lights go dim and the crowd roars for their fighters,” he said. “It’ll be energizing and motivating!”