#1 ranked bantamweight contender “Suga” Sean O’Malley (16-1 MMA, 8-1) not only sat cageside to watch reigning UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling (23-3 MMA, 15-3 UFC) successfully defend his title against Henry Cejudo at UFC 288 in Newark, New Jersey — he also stepped into the ring following the match to get in Aljo’s face, talk a little trash and set up a potential fight against the champ as well. Although his match-hyping trash talk might have suggested otherwise, O’Malley has great respect for Sterling — though he still expects to “shock the world” when the two eventually face off in the octagon.
“If anything, I would say his gas tank,” O’Malley said of what he thought was Sterling’s most impressive attribute in an interview with Ariel Helwani on “The MMA Hour.” “Keeping up with Henry for five rounds, that was more impressive than anything. I understand how dangerous of an opponent Aljo is. I know his strengths, I know his weaknesses, he could be considered the greatest bantamweight of all time right now with his resume, so I know what I’m getting into. I’m very excited for the challenge and I do believe I have the ability and the skills to go out there and shock the world because I do believe I’m going to be a massive underdog.”
“I think when you look at who he’s beat and how his style is, very grappling heavy, I haven’t really fought a really, really good grappler yet inside the octagon,” O’Malley added. “Obviously, I train with absolute killers. I understand where the strengths and weaknesses are and I do believe I have the skills and I think the outside perspective will be Aljo’s going go out there and do what he did to Cory [Sandhagen]. We’ve got kind of similar body types, so I’ve just got to last longer than 12 seconds, than Cory, and it’s a win. Just jokes.”
O’Malley, who has built an impressive following in the UFC for his flashiness both in and out of the ring, and is currently riding a five-fight-winning streak (including a big win over top-ranked bantamweight Petr Yan in his last fight), noted that he coincidentally happened to be sitting next to Sterling’s family during the latter’s fight against Cejudo in Newark.
“I know how my mom gets during the fights, so I was kind of trying to comfort her, ‘Aljo’s going to do good,’” O’Malley explained. “She’s a nice lady, so it wasn’t awkward. I’ve got to beat up her son, what, am I going to be mean to her too?”
When it comes to a location, “Suga” Sean thinks that Boston, which is likely to be hosting a UFC event in August, would be his ideal choice, whether Sterling likes it or not.
“If they get the venue, if they get Boston, I think the UFC would like to bring me to Boston,” O’Malley said. “I don’t know how much of a choice Aljamain has. He’s the champ, I’m the No. 1 guy, he didn’t get injured, he’s good. Regardless, I think I’m fighting in Boston. Whether he wants to show up and make the biggest payday of his life, that’s up to him.”
O’Malley added that August would give Sterling plenty of time to recover from his last match, as well as clapped back at a particular comment Sterling made regarding how quickly he thought he’d finish the fight.
“I’m excited, I’m ready to get back in there,” O’Malley added. “I think September, who knows where that card’s going to be in September? I think August makes sense. That’s 15 weeks, three and a half months, that’s damn near four months. That’s plenty of time for him to take a couple of weeks off, get back in there.
“He did say he’s going to fold me in one round, so I don’t even know why he would train. Maybe take 14 weeks off, train fight week, and try to get the job done there.”
What do you think of the comments made by Sean O’Malley on facing UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling? Are you looking forward to “Suga” Sean taking on Aljo? Let us know in the comments.