Reigning UFC Bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling faces another title defense this weekend. His new opponent will be Sean O'Malley, a fighter who has had the full support of the UFC and hardly deserves to be in this spot. Here is our Sterling vs O'Malley prediction.
UFC 292: Sterling vs O'Malley Prediction
Aljamain Sterling Preview
Aljamain Sterling is the former CFFC and Ring of Combat Bantamweight champion. He has a black belt in Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu and is the current UFC Bantamweight champion. His fight record is 23-3.
Many MMA fans did not doubt that Aljo would either run out of steam or lose to Cejudo on the ground. However, to the surprise of critics, including Sean, Sterling showed excellent cardio and again, without any problems, took the fight by decision – albeit split.
Sterling's traditional style which includes only occasionally throwing out jabs, will not work this time. Sterling will inevitably take the fight to the ground or will clinch Sean a lot at the net to completely deprive him of his strength.
Double and sometimes triple low kicks will also be used, which was a big surprise for Cejudo and gave him a lot of problems.
At the same time, real difficulties will begin for Aljo in the stand: he will not be able to avoid all the opponent’s punches and is unlikely to be able to seriously break away in terms of the number of accented hits. O'Malley has a reach advantage and a ten-centimeter height advantage. This is a big number for such a small weight class and Sterling will try to take Sean to the canvas ASAP.
Sterling's camp has probably focused on strikes in the clinch, elbows, and overall dominance on the ground. But let's not forget that getting O'Malley down to earth is not easy.
Tall and strong, Sean will actively resist, and in case of transfer, he will immediately try to lock Sterling in with his huge hands.
Of course, Aljo will be able to keep him on the ground for an extremely long time, in addition, if he feels that he is ahead on points, he will activate his ECO mode and wait for the final round, realizing that the judges are on his side. The only question is, when will they all get tired of drawing a split decision in his championship defenses? Isn't it time for him to step it up and show us a more dominant performance?
Will he defend his title again against a far inexperienced opponent? Check out our Sterling vs O'Malley prediction below.
Sean O'Malley Preview
Sean O'Malley has a brown belt in BJJ and has received four UFC Performance of the Night awards to date. When put next to Sterling's achievements, it literally is nothing. And we also believe that O'Malley was pushed quite obviously by matchmakers, judges, and the UFC as a whole. It is too early for him to be here. Nevertheless, here we go.
How can O'Malley win against the arguably most dominant Bantamweight champion in UFC history? First of all, with double jabs and constant pressure. Sean understands that in the first rounds, he will be faster and more accurate than the opponent, and will try to knock out points in these segments.
O'Malley will also benefit from his solid shots to the inside of the thigh and a foot to the knee, which will push Aljo back to the net and keep him from getting close.
However, the main thing that Sean should pay attention to is the protection of the body and ankles. Leg injuries from punches are his main problem, so O'Malley needs to counter as many of these attacks from the champion as possible.
Bookmakers and analysts are pretty clear on their Sterling vs O'Malley prediction – everyone expects Aljo to win here. But Sean has his qualities too and we believe that there is a chance. It doesn't mean that O'Malley is our favorite. After all, Sterling has been in this game for too long and is very familiar with all the profitable ways to earn points and retain the title.
However, we do not doubt that in this fight for the first time in a long time, Aljo will receive a bunch of hits in the face and possibly end the fight with a couple of cuts.
Aljamain Sterling vs Sean O'Malley: Late Win for the Champion
This should be a long fight and we have a good idea about our Sterling vs O'Malley prediction. O'Malley will not get knocked out here, he is simply too good on his feet. And Aljamain Sterling is not a fighter that ever wins early – he takes his time and rarely goes wild. We believe that Sean will have the upper hand around the first couple of rounds as he is younger, faster, and quite bigger. He will put Sterling's face to the test.
Of course, by the middle of the fight, it really may seem that Sean has a chance, he will hit a lot, combining blows on different levels. At the same time, Aljo will at times look like a confused challenger who does not understand exactly how to develop his attack.
Nevertheless, by the middle of the 4th round, the champion will inevitably begin to turn the situation in his favor. And it's not about technique, speed, or strength. It’s just that Sterling works much better with timings and understands when it’s worth picking up the pace and when to retreat.
It is due to this understanding that he will be able to survive after Sean's attacks, and at the same time get ahead in the cards. He may get a late submission too but O'Malley has a good defense, from what we have seen to date.