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Sean O’Malley to leapfrog UFC pound-for-pound ranks with Aljamain Sterling win: ‘I go straight to No. 1’

UFC 288: Sterling v Cejudo Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Sean O’Malley has high expectations for his immediate future.

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) gold will be on the line in the Bantamweight division at UFC 292 on Aug. 29, 2023. As one of the biggest early stars, if not the biggest star, from Dana White’s Contender Series, O’Malley is getting his big title opportunity when he challenges the reigning champion, Aljamain Sterling.

O’Malley, 28, is currently the No. 2-ranked Bantamweight contender and unranked on the men’s pound-for-pound list. He expects the latter to drastically change after a big championship win over the No. 6-ranked Sterling, however.

“What’s ‘Aljo’ ranked pound-for-pound? He’s gotta be up there,” O’Malley said on The Bro’Malley Show. “Top five, right? He’s gotta be. ‘Volk’ (Alexander Volkanovski) and ‘Izzy’ (Israel Adesanya) are definitely up there. Jon Jones. ‘Aljo’s’ defended the belt. I mean, who else has really been defending the belt that much? Leon [Edwards] defended it once. Jamahal Hill hasn’t had a chance to defend it. ‘Izzy’s’ obviously up there. Islam [Makhachev], definitely up there.

“I feel like you gotta give ‘Aljo’ above Charles [Oliveira] just considering he’s champ and he’s defended the belt three times. No. 7 best pound-for-pound in the world? I win, I go straight to No. 1. I hop the line, you know what I do, baby. I win, I’m f—king No. 1. You’ve seen that s—t before, watch me go from not ranked pound-for-pound [to] No. 1.”

The biggest win of O’Malley’s 18-fight career (16-1, 1 no contest) came in his last fight against former champion, Petr Yan, at UFC 280 in Oct. 2022. Ranked No. 1 in the division at the time, Yan suffered a closely contested split decision defeat (watch highlights), propelling O’Malley into his spot and earning him a title shot. It’s unlikely UFC rankings voters would do the same for “Sugar” on the pound-for-pound list, but he’d at least crack the top 15.

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