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Sean O’Malley declares Aljamain Sterling ‘best bantamweight UFC has ever known’ ahead of UFC 292

Sean O’Malley believes he’s taking on an all-time great in his first career Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) title shot.

UFC returns to Boston, Mass., for the first time since Oct. 2019 with UFC 292 this weekend (Sat., Aug. 19, 2023). The main event will feature a battle for Bantamweight gold as division champion, Aljamain Sterling, looks to continue his run atop the division by turning back the “Sugar Show.

O’Malley and Sterling have butted heads in-person (and online) when interacting ahead of their clash. However, O’Malley, 28, has respect for the skills possessed by the champion and thinks “Funkmaster” has done enough to be called the division’s best ever.

LIVE! Watch UFC 293 PPV On ESPN+ Here!

MASSIVE MIDDLEWEIGHT MATCH! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) makes its highly anticipated return to Sydney, Australia, for the first time in five years on Sat., Sept. 9, 2023, with a 185-pound world title fight inside Qudos Bank Arena. In the ESPN+-streamed pay-per-view (PPV) main event, Middleweight roost-ruler, Israel Adesanya, plans to silence No. 5-seeded contender, Sean Strickland. In UFC 293’s hard-hitting Heavyweight co-main event, No-6-ranked fan favorite, Tai Tuivasa, locks horns with towering Russian, Alexander Volkov (No. 8).

Don’t miss a single second of EPIC face-punching action!

“Aljamain Sterling is the best Bantamweight the UFC has ever known,” O’Malley told ESPN (h/t MMA Junkie). “He’s in his prime. He’s 33, I think — that’s pretty much prime age. All the male UFC champions are in their 30s. He’s the best grappler in the division. I’m a striker. This is a striker vs. grappler matchup, so it’s exciting.

“It gets me excited,” he continued. “I want to go out there and prove people wrong. The last fight, everyone thought I was going to lose that fight. Then when I won the fight, it just made people so mad. I liked that. For whatever reason, I liked that. So for me to go out there and be a huge underdog again against Aljamain, it’s a weird addiction.”

O’Malley’s last victory was his biggest yet, proving doubters wrong as a decent underdog against the former champion, Petr Yan. The pair’s UFC 280 encounter in Oct. 2022 was awarded “Fight of the Night” honors and resulted in an O’Malley split decision (watch highlights). In terms of common opponents, “No Mercy” is the most notable shared between UFC 292’s headliners with the only other being Pedro Munhoz. Sterling defeated Munhoz via unanimous decision in June 2019, while O’Malley battled to a “No Contest” (accidental eye poke) in July 2022.

After nearly a full year since his Yan win, O’Malley admits he was caught off guard by the grappling exchanges, which are expected to come in heavy doses opposite Sterling.

“Aljamain beat Petr in their last fight,” O’Malley said. “I looked at the Petr fight. I made a mistake. I did not expect him to wrestle or shoot at all. I train grappling all the time — in camp, we grapple.

“But, for this fight, we know he’s going to shoot, so we’ve got to have a game plan around that, whereas the Petr fight, it was more of a kickboxing camp,” he concluded. “Wrestler vs. grappler (striker), most people pick the wrestlers — so this fight for sure [is like that].”

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 292 fight card and rumors click here.

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