By Charlotte McKinley
Despite UFC lightweight Chase Hooper’s dynamic guard control and plethora of submission attempts, former UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling defeated Hooper via split decision in Abu Dhabi on Friday afternoon.
The venue was electric as the two grapplers made their way to the Abu Dhabi Extreme Championship cage on Jan. 19. The crowd waited with eager anticipation for the main event to begin.
The moment that Hooper and Sterling shook hands, the grapplers were ready for war. Hooper opened up the match by throwing himself on the ground and spinning around on his shoulders for an Iminari roll to catch Sterling off guard.
The first round flew by in a blur of movement as the two athletes tried to overcome each other. Hooper continuously hunted for submissions, throwing arm attacks, leg attacks and neck attacks at Sterling who defended each attempt well.
The remaining rounds were much the same with Hooper’s submission attempts and Sterling’s defense then subsequent offense.
Throughout the matches, Sterling showed more aggression than Hooper – constantly pushing the pace, completing more takedowns and landing in more dominant positions. Despite his dominant positions, Hooper managed to weasel his way out of danger every time, retaining his guard. Though the aggression was on Sterling’s side, Hooper was at ease throughout all the matches, having an answer for anything Sterling threw at him.
Hooper listened to his corner and attempted different attacks throughout the night with one arm lock endangering Sterling more than others.
Hooper, a very dynamic guard player, versus Sterling, a very aggressive top player, beautifully showcased two different styles of Jiu Jitsu for an electric, and close, match.
Sweaty and exhausted after their fifteen minute match, the two stood on either side of the referee awaiting the decision of the judges.
Based on Sterling’s aggression and control of positions, the judges awarded Sterling the win via split decision.
In his post-match interview, Sterling was very complimentary of Hooper, saying that Hooper did a good job of framing and staying long.
“I just tried to do what I can do best,” Sterling said. “Hats off to Hooper.”