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Aljamain Sterling will fight Rani Yahya in December, which, when you think about it, kind of doesn’t make sense, though it’s not like the “Funk Master” didn’t try to set himself up for a showdown with a big name.

Coming off a win over former bantamweight champion Renan Barao at UFC 214, Sterling turned his attention to top contender Jimmie Rivera and last month lured him into a Twitter beef.

He got a little more than expected but not what he wanted.

Sterling (14-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) hoped it would result in a shot at Rivera (21-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC), a top contender who’s on an astounding 20-fight winning streak that dates back to 2009. The UFC, however, had other plans and booked Rivera, No. 5 in the current USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA bantamweight rankings, in a probable title eliminator vs. ex-champ Dominick Cruz on Dec. 30 at the UFC 219 pay-per-view in Las Vegas.

As for Sterling? He gets Yahya on Dec. 9 in the FS1-televised UFC Fight Night 123 from Fresno, Calif. It’s not exactly what Sterling was hoping for coming off the biggest win of his career and second in a row, but he still wants Rivera and was very vocal about it during a UFC-Gdansk Q&A session over the weekend.

“There’s nobody in the top 10 for me to fight,” Sterling said. “So what I plan on doing, I’m gonna try to take a dump on Rani Yahya, then I want to fight that f*cking (expletive) Jimmie Rivera.”

The beef between Sterling and Rivera goes back to their time on the regional circuit. Sterling says that’s when Rivera first began to call him out, but Sterling wasn’t willing to fight him “for peanuts and pennies.” Now that they’re in the UFC and making names for themselves, he’s more than ready.

But does that mean Sterling will also have to deal with Rivera’s wife, Samantha, too? It already happened during that aforementioned Twitter exchange, which caught Sterling off guard.

Sterling also viewed it as a sign of weakness.

“Who has their girlfriend defending them on Twitter if they’re a fighter,” he said. “We’re going to fight – not me and your girlfriend, your wife, whatever. That shit doesn’t make sense to me.”

Sterling said he recently came face to face with Rivera and couldn’t believe the threat that was directed at him.

“I saw him before I came out here. And I’m a very nice guy in person. I just said, ‘What’s up, Jimmie?'” Sterling said. “And he looks at me, giving me this weird face like he doesn’t want to say anything, kind of rolls his eyes, walks away, turns back around, and says, ‘It’s not me you should be worried about; it’s my wife.’

“And I’m just like, ‘Oh my God, you’re such a (expletive).’ Who says that?”

Both Sterling and Rivera have business to handle in front of them, but it sounds like this won’t get settled until they step inside the octagon together.

For more on UFC Fight Night 118 and UFC Fight Night 123, check out the UFC Events and UFC Rumors sections of the site.

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