One of the most interesting title fights of the year will unfold later this evening (Sat., Aug. 19, 2023) at UFC 292 live on ESPN+ PPV from inside TD Garden in Boston, Mass., when Sean O’Malley finally capitalizes on his rising stardom and challenges Aljamain Sterling for the undisputed UFC bantamweight title.
On paper, Sterling should have an easy day at work considering his wrestling will be the biggest advantage between both fighters. O’Malley isn’t a slouch in the grappling department, but if “Funk Master” gets “Suga” to the ground it could all be over. At least until the bell rings and Sterling goes right back to his wrestling the round after that.
That said, O’Malley possesses some of the best striking in the division and always seems to put himself in a position to succeed on the feet. If there was any fighter at the bantamweight level who can pull a knockout out of his arsenal and upset Sterling it may be the former Contender Series standout.
Most fight fans and fellow UFC fighters are thinking the same way entering UFC 292’s main event. This includes reigning UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, who is one of the most respected strikers in the history of combat sports. Even someone as skilled and accomplished as “Last Stylebender” can marvel in the excellence that is O’Malley’s standup.
“They can both strike and they can both grapple,” Adesanya said on his YouTube channel. “I like Sean’s flow, his work, the way he fights, the way he moves, his footwork, his taunts, his kicks, his selection, his combinations, the way he picks his shots, the way he darts in and out.
“It’s pretty to watch. I’s beautiful to watch. I’m an artist and I appreciate beautiful art. Same with Aljamain, the way he just sticks to people, and just his body – he’s shredded at 135. Once he catches you, it’s like, boom: You have a muscle-ninja turtle on your back.”
While Adesanya pays tribute to Sterling’s world-class ground game he has a feeling tonight will be O’Malley’s show. After all, “Suga” has that “it” factor and always seems to rise to the occasion when the lights are brightest.
“Aljamain’s grabbing a hold of him and beat him up, Sean keeping him away with good footwork, good positioning and pinpoint striking,” Adesanya said. “Also, Sean’s slick on the ground. Scramble for your life. Do not let him get settled because the more he settles, the stronger he gets.
“If it goes the distance, I think he can do it. O’Malley’s locked in. I think he can do five rounds. I’m going to go Sean, official pick. I’m going to go Sean with this one. Sometimes you just feel like it’s time, it’s destiny.”
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