Aljamain Sterling hopes to erase Sean O’Malley nightmare with dream UFC fight

Aljamain Sterling may have just talked himself into taking his first UFC featherweight fight.

By: Zane Simon | 2 months ago
Aljamain Sterling hopes to erase Sean O’Malley nightmare with dream UFC fight
Aljamain Sterling at UFC 288. - Louis Grasse Zuma Wire/IMAGO

Former UFC bantamweight champ Aljamain Sterling lost to Sean O’Malley in shocking fashion at UFC 282.

“I didn’t want the fight to be boring,” Aljamain Sterling told fans after the loss. “I could have sat on the outside and kept playing the leg kick game. But then I would have had all the criticisms of everybody else. That’s the difference. He stayed disciplined to his game plan, and I kind of let trying to be more of an exciting style for the fans play a factor.

“We’ve seen the Izzy-Yoel Romero fight, we’ve seen bad fights before where not much happens because no one wants to make that grave mistake. I made the mistake. Sean capitalized, I paid for it.”

Aljamain Sterling fired up by UFC company man’s dismissal

Sterling requested an immediate rematch, but this is the UFC and there are no rematch clauses in title fight contracts. New champ Sean O’Malley has expressed no interest in rematching Sterling. In fact, O’Malley is talking about all kinds of big plans none of which involve Sterling. The ex-champ’s future looked uncertain

One idea fans and pundits had bandied about was a potential featherweight fight against Max Holloway, that is if Sterling really was set on the idea of moving up a division in the near future. But, if that’s a fight that got fans talking it wasn’t one former UFC double-champ and current broadcast booth member Daniel Cormier was interested in.

“Max is too big for Aljamain Sterling,” Cormier said on his DC & RC show (transcript via MMA Mania). “If Aljamain struggled with Sean O’Malley’s size, he would be in some real, deep trouble with Max Holloway.”

Sterling had seemingly put his featherweight plans on hold, but maybe D.C. lit a fire under him

“[Cormier] was saying that he likes me, but he doesn’t think I should fight Max Holloway,” Sterling replied in a video for his YouTube channel (transcript via MMA News). “That kind of just makes me want to go up right out of the gate and just call him out and say, ‘I wanna show you guys what’s up.’ I know he said that if I struggled with O’Malley’s height and size, but I’m like, did I actually struggle? I made one mistake compared to the first round, where mostly I was pretty disciplined.”

“To say I would struggle, that kinda gets me going. That kinda gets me wanting to be like, ‘Okay, I’ll show you guys what’s up.’ I don’t think people really understand big-body Aljo, what he can do compared to scrawny but shredded Aljo,” Sterling continued. “It’s just different man power… Max is the man, bro. Max is the ******* man. I go out and I beat the man, bro, come on. And I think it erases my mistake—not completely.”

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Chael Sonnen loves the fight

Even if Daniel Cormier hates that matchup, Chael Sonnen loves it

“I love that fight,” Sonnen gushed in a recent video (transcript via MMA Junkie). “In fact, I don’t know if there’s an Aljo fight I would rather see. I’m an advocate for history prevailing and Aljo getting a rematch against Sean, but I don’t know that I would rather see that than see Aljo at 145. I mean, that is the pursuit of a championship, make no mistake.”

“He is the ultimate gatekeeper,” he added, speaking of Holloway. “There has never been a gatekeeper as dominant as Max. It goes Volk, it goes Max, then there’s a big step down. Some fresh blood within the division, a new match, a new challenge, unexpected pairing, I love it.”

Of course, this being MMA, the sudden changes to the UFC 294 card caused by Charles Oliveira pulling out and featherweight champ Alexander Volkonovski jumping in, instantly removes Max Holloway’s dead-man walking status in the division and might render all of this speculation moot.

Ilia Topuria has been on Spanish TV talking up a potential UFC 297 title fight against Volkonovski in Toronto, but if Alexander the Great takes the lightweight title in his second attempt, Holloway might very well be busy facing Topuria in Toronto, possibly for an interim title?

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About the author
Zane Simon
Zane Simon

Zane Simon is a senior editor, writer, and podcaster for Bloody Elbow. He has worked with the website since 2013, taking on a wide variety of roles. A lifelong combat sports fan, Zane has trained off & on in both boxing and Muay Thai. He currently hosts the long-running MMA Vivisection podcast, which he took over from Nate Wilcox & Dallas Winston in 2015, as well as the 6th Round podcast, started in 2014. Zane is also responsible for developing and maintaining the ‘List of current UFC fighters’ on Bloody Elbow, a resource he originally developed for Wikipedia in 2010.

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