The next UFC bantamweight title challenger is not buying into Aljamain Sterling’s injury claims. While the ‘Funkmaster’ did agree to face Sean O’Malley at UFC 292 on August 19, he also pointed out that a hand injury suffered during his fight against Henry Cejudo could hinder his preparation for the upcoming title defense.
Sean O’Malley is not buying it
Though Sterling did not withdraw from the title defense, it was enough to make O’Malley feel uneasy ahead of his training camp. Since the fight is roughly three months away, ‘Suga’ sees no reason for the champion to be talking about any injuries that could prevent the match from happening on the intended date.
“He did just fight, but look at Israel Adesanya, the motherf-cker fought four times in 12 months,” O’Malley said on the TimboSugarShow (transcribed by MMA Fighting). “You have four months, I know some people keep saying three months, but it’s four months from the fight. Take two months off, heal up, and then train hard for two months. It ain’t f-cking science, or is it? It’s called discipline.”
Furthermore, following recent statements Sterling has made also left O’Malley aggravated towards the champion. While the Funkmaster has recently approached O’Malley and tried to change the date of the fight on Twitter, ‘Suga’ was not having it. In fact, the title challenger felt annoyed that a fighter was trying to make the arrangements, instead of the promotion.
“He acts like he calls the shots,” O’Malley said. “I’m not acting like I call the shots either. Dana said August, so I said August. It’s not like I told Dana, ‘Hey, f-cking run it in August, I run this sh-t.’ I said, ‘Hey, Uncle Dana’ — I didn’t call him Daddy Dana like he says — I said, ‘Uncle Dana, when do you want me to beat up Aljo?’ And it happened to be August.”
Sterling responds with receipts
Sterling has since released a video on social media about the topic. He once again confirmed that he is going to compete in August despite it being a quick turnaround, and also addressed O’Malley’s lines one by one.
“First off, it’s not science, you freaking moron. It’s called math. You probably forgot, because you might have dropped out of high school, or maybe you smoked all your brains away,” Sterling responded in a video. “What’s this going to be, 90 or 97 days (turnaround for me)? Last time I checked, that’s three months, not four… but maybe it’s science? Maybe there’s something to this?”
“Obviously I have the discipline to become a champion. Like you said, Izzy has fought four times a year. How many times did you fight in the last year?” Sterling asked sarcastically. “Wait, wait, oh wait. Abu Dhabi, October 27th, we both fought on the same card. I fought three times in 13 months, you fought I think once? Wow!! That’s impressive, bro.”
Both men haven’t lost in the last few years
Aljamain Sterling (23-3) defended the bantamweight belt for the third time in his last outing, defeating Henry Cejudo by split decision at UFC 288. The result extended the 33-year-old’s win streak to nine straight, with victories over notable names such as Petr Yan, T.J. Dillashaw and Cory Sandhagen in it, among others.
In fact, Sterling has not lost a match since December 2017, when he got knocked out by Marlon Moraes at UFC Fight Night 123.
Meanwhile, Sean O’Malley (16-1-1 NC) is undefeated in his last five outings, with four victories and one No Contest. During this time, the 28-year-old secured a title shot with a split decision win over Petr Yan in October 2022 and prior victories over Raulian Paiva, Kris Moutinho and Thomas Almeida. The No Contest took place in his match against Pedro Munhoz, when an eye poke rendered the Brazilian unable to continue.
O’Malley’s last and only loss dates back to August 2020, when he got TKO’d by Marlon Vera in the first round of their fight at UFC 252.
Now, Aljamain Sterling is expected to defend the bantamweight belt against Sean O’Malley at the UFC 292 main event, on August 19. A strawweight title fight between champion Weili Zhang and challenger Amanda Lemos is set to co-headline the card.
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