Aljamain Sterling is currently riding high after solidifying his grip on the UFC bantamweight title. At UFC 273 in April he defended and unified the belt thanks to a split decision win over interim champion Petr Yan. Sterling had won the belt from Yan a year earlier after the Russian was disqualified for an illegal knee.
Sterling now faces the prospect of fighting someone other than Yan for the first time in two years. And the 135 lb division has plenty of interesting fights to offer him.
The champion recently appeared on The JRE podcast to discuss his possible opponents.
When talk shifted to the 13th ranked Sean O’Malley, ‘Da Funkmaster’ was full of praise.
“Honestly, if I’m being honest that guy’s really fucking good,” he said. “And I like his honesty and the way he breaks down fights and analyzes it. It kind of reminds me of myself, except he’s a little more brash about it.”
Sterling continued to salute O’Malley for his fight game. Though, he did offer one critique (one that he thinks might impede O’Malley’s progress in the bantamweight division).
“Good movement, slick on the feet and I think his feints are what really does him well, especially having that length and that range in this weight class. I do think he might be a little weak, though.”
“I feel like If I grab that guy and put a bodylock on that guy, I’d probably break his ribs and get a submission win with a standing bodylock,” continued Sterling. “Just crunch his back like The Hulk.”
When pressed by the host about his assessment, Sterling laughed and claimed that it would be improbable to expect O’Malley to be elite in all facets of fighting.
“I just think, something has to lack. You can’t have the power, the speed, the height and the leverage, you can’t have all those things. God did not bless you like that... something has to lack.”
O’Malley has been one of the more popular fighters on the UFC roster since joining the promotion through the Contender Series in 2017.
Since then he has gone 7-1 in the UFC, with his sole loss being a TKO to Marlon Vera in 2020. Since the Vera loss O’Malley has KO’d Thomas Almeida and beaten Kris Moutinho and Raulian Paiva by TKO.
He’s expected to face Pedro Munhoz at UFC 276 in July.