Predicting a prior opening round finish of incoming bantamweight challenger, Sean O’Malley, undisputed UFC champion, Aljamain Sterling doubts the Montana native’s ability to take his strikes square on his chin ahead of an expected summer title fight between the duo.
Sterling, who most recently headlined UFC 288 just earlier this month, managed to successfully defend his undisputed bantamweight title for the third time – the sole champion in the division’s history to achieve such a feat, with a split decision win over former two-weight champion, Henry Cejudo.
Joined in the Octagon following his victory over Olympic gold medalist, Cejudo, Sterling was met by Dana White’s Contender Series product, O’Malley – with the #2 ranked bantamweight challenger expected to fight the Uniondale gold holder later this year – potentially at UFC 292 in August.
Initially scoffing at a Boston, Massachusetts appearance to defend his title against O’Malley, Sterling, however, predicted a one-sided victory over the former when they eventually share the Octagon.
“My thoughts on Sean O’Malley; that motherf*cker is frail,” Aljamain Sterling said. “Frail. You think if I can take down a short, stocky guy like Henry (Cejudo) who’s actually a gold medalist (in the Olympics) and actually has good takedown defense – what I am going to do to Sean O’Malley, like?”
“… I guarantee you, we step in there – I think I fold that man in half in one round,” Aljamain Sterling continued. “It’s just gonna look – same thing I did to (Cory) Sandhagen. Go out there and pressure forward, he’s gonna use his footwork, I’m gonna cut off the cage like I was just talking about. Eventually, he’s gonna be on his backfoot, let him throw a stupid kick that I’m gonna catch, I’m gonna bodylock him. And I’m gonna fold him in half like a lawn chair, and that’s gonna be the fight.”
Aljamain Sterling predicts first round win over Sean O’Malley
And continuing that sentiment in the weeks following their initial meeting, Sterling pointed to O’Malley’s stoppage loss to Ecuadorian contender, Marlon Vera back in 2020, claiming the incoming title chaser won’t be able to develop a sufficient chin by the time they fight.
“To drag a guy like (Sean) O’Malley down – I mean, what’s this guy gonna do to me?” Aljamain Sterling asked Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “Really – and I’m not trying to be disrespectful. It’s a subtle jab, but it’s the truth. It’s a fight, anything can happen, but at the end of the day, I think we all know what his kryptonite is. We’ve seen him one time on his back and it was like a fish out on land. ‘Chito’ [Marlon Vera] smashed him and sent him home. I think ‘Chito’ might have hit him one time and his eyes rolled back in the back of his head.”
“That’s not a good sign,” Aljamain Sterling explained. “And he’s got a tiny head. He’s a tall – he talks about my weight, but he’s skinny. He’s a twig, he’s got a really tiny head – I got a really tiny head too – he got hit one time and he was out. It les me have a little more confidence. I don’t think you can develop a chin over time. If I hit him squarely, take him down, that fight’s as good as over, probably in one [round].”