Aljamain Sterling frustrated by UFC’s quick turnaround title fight plans

Aljamain Sterling hopes that his fight against Sean O'Malley can happen in September or October rather than UFC's August expectations.

By: Jack Wannan | 2 weeks ago
Aljamain Sterling frustrated by UFC’s quick turnaround title fight plans
Aljamain Sterling wants his next title fight to come in September, not August. | IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

Aljamain Sterling would prefer if he could have some time to celebrate his recent win and live life. He defended his UFC Bantamweight Championship for the third time at UFC 288, overcoming Henry Cejudo in a split decision result, holding onto a belt that he claimed more than two years ago. After a tough and competitive win, he wants to remain active but also would like a brief time outside of the cage.

But the break that he hopes for might not happen. UFC hopes to book him in his next match – an appearance against Sean O’Malley – as early as August. And that’s not ideal for the champ.

Aljamain Sterling discusses potential quick turnaround against O’Malley

Sterling spoke about hoping for a longer break in a recent interview with MMA News. He said that a slightly longer time off would allow him to recover from his hard cut down to bantamweight and lower the risk of suffering a bad injury by the time he’s done with another performance.

“There’s a lot at play where it’s like, man, I feel like I didn’t get time to enjoy this moment because I feel like I’m jumping right back into the fire all over again,” said Sterling.

Sterling talked about how he bloats after cuts to bantamweight, claiming that he gains large amounts of weight after making the divisional limit. He has previously talked about planning to move up to featherweight – a change for him that could happen after his expected O’Malley clash later this year.

September booking would be ‘ideal’ for Sterling

O’Malley is certainly expected to be the next opponent for Sterling. The duo did a face-off at UFC 288 after Sterling’s win in Newark, New Jersey.

The exact date for their fight is not set in stone as of yet. UFC President Dana White said that August was “probably” the month that the fight would land on. Sterling still describes the “best case scenario” as getting the matchup in September.

“It is a little frustrating because I wasn’t expecting that,” said Sterling about the UFC wanting to place his next matchup in August. “I was expecting to have a little more time to kind of enjoy it a little bit. And I do want to be active, that’s why I asked for September. Because October is back in Abu Dhabi.”

On October 21, UFC 294 will take place from the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Sterling’s avoidance of fighting in Abu Dhabi is due to the fact that it would be an overseas fight for him. He fought there at UFC 280 last year, scoring a second-round stoppage against former champion TJ Dillashaw.

“I would like to visit Abu Dhabi, [but] I’m not trying to fight there again because there’s just a lot of moving pieces involved in trying to compete overseas.”

Sterling emphasizes importance of work/life balance

During the interview, Sterling mentioned the importance of balancing work with life. He described how it’s important to enjoy the rewards you have earned, “otherwise time is going to pass you by.” That’s why he’s not ashamed to admit that having a fight in September would allow him to relax instead of going right back into training.

“I would rather be able to enjoy my summer a little bit more and my birthday,” he said. “So it is what it is. Yeah, it’s a little frustrating, but I know this is a job so we’ll try to figure it out as best we can.”

If Sterling and O’Malley do end up getting booked for August, it will likely land on UFC 292, which is expected to take place on August 19th. No other title fights or five-round matchups have been scheduled for that card as of yet.

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Jack Wannan
Jack Wannan

Jack Wannan is a reporter for Bloody Elbow. He joined the site in 2023 after previously writing for and Knockdown News. He is currently in the process of earning a bachelor's degree in journalism at Toronto Metropolitan University.

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