Aljamain Sterling defends his UFC bantamweight title against Sean O’Malley this Saturday night at the UFC 292 in New York. Madison Square Garden will be small to receive all those who would love to watch this matchup because these two guys are very controversial. It could even be said that the fans either love them or viciously despise them. But that sells well, and the UFC knows how to make a spectacle; we’ve seen that numerous times in the past.
Aljamain Sterling (23-3, -250) defends his title for the fourth time, and each one of his previous defenses was controversial. After taking the belt from Petr Yan because of the Russian’s DQ, he beat him again via split decision, pretty undeservingly, we might say. Aljo avoided fighting throughout all 25 minutes, often passively holding the Russian on the mat.
He then fought TJ Dillashaw, who was injured beating the former champ by a second-round KO, before defeating Henry Dejudo after a split decision, again a questionable one. That is why many believe this guy has a lot of luck, and he simply isn’t worthy of a title belt.
Sterling is one of the best wrestlers in the organization, and his relentless approach on the mat is the main advantage he has over other rivals. He knows to strike hard as well but is dominantly oriented towards wrestling and avoids exchanges in the standup. Also, his cardio is at a high level, so 11 decision wins shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Sean O’Malley (16-1, +200) also defeated Petr Yan, and he too did that with the massive help of the judges. Sugar’s reaction to the decision told everything, and he wasn’t even celebrating that much.
Sure, he did land a few massive hits to Yan, but overall, the Russian was better in that event. This was O’Malley’s 16th victory, with one no-contest against Pedro Munhoz and one loss, to Marlon Vera. To be perfectly straight, we and the majority of the MMA community believe this fight came way too early for O’Malley, who didn’t have that many tests in the past. But sometimes, business dictates the situation and the next moves.
Sugar is a fantastic puncher, and 11 of his 16 victories were via KO. His jabs have tremendous power, and are maybe the strongest in the division. Also, O’Malley’s reach is always an advantage for the 28-year-old, and that’s why we inflict so much damage on his rivals. However, despite a solid takedown defense, his wrestling is a problem, and he doesn’t perform well when on the ground.
O’Malley is too one-dimensional for Sterling. At some point, Aljo will break Sugar’s takedown defense, regardless of the cost, and when that happens, that will be the end of the bout. The champion is much more experienced than his challenger, who never met a guy like Sterling, with his skill set on the mat and his endurance. We predict Aljo’s easy win here, via submission, somewhere between the second and the third round. It might sound cocky, but we really think that this is Saturday’s scenario.
Pick: Sterling wins -250
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.