UFC 292 went down last night (Sat., Aug. 19, 2023) inside TD Garden in Boston, Mass., which saw Sean O’Malley knockout Aljamain Sterling in the second round to win the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight title (see it here). In the co-main event, Zhang Weili dominated Amanda Lemos from the opening round, battering her for 25 minutes to retain her women’s Strawweight title (recap here).
Biggest Winner: Sean O’Malley
There were a lot of people who felt “Suga” was hand-fed select fights to get him to the big moment of a title fight. But, O’Malley showed his worth and proved doubters wrong by pulling off one of the biggest upsets in recent memory on the biggest stage (and fight) of his career, clipping Sterling with a perfectly-placed (and drilled) right hand that dropped him. He put on the finishing touches with some nasty ground-and-pound to reach the pinnacle of the sport, capturing his first-ever world title. It’s a prophecy fulfilled by the young man who made an impression right away coming out of Contender Series, and who now sits on top of the world with bigger and better things to come. Now that he runs the division, O’Malley vows to sit on the throne for an extended period of time, and already has eyes on his first title defense, calling out Marlon Vera for a December rematch. For now, “Suga” can soak it all in and prepare for the whirlwind of attention and duties he will have now that he is a champion with a big target on his back.
Runner Up: Zhang Weili
“Magnum” once again proved the reason(s) she’s just on a different level as UFC women’s Strawweight champion by dominating Amanda Lemos — who was red-hot coming into the title fight — for 25 minutes. What was so special about Weili’s performance was that she used everything in her tool box to get the job done, especially her grappling skills, scoring seven takedowns while controlling the pace of the fight on the mat. But, she wasn’t just a blanket draped all over the Brazilian bomber, she unleashed intense ground-and-pound every chance she got en route to scoring a one-sided unanimous decision victory in her seventh straight title fight.
Biggest Loser: Aljamain Sterling
No one was as shocked with the outcome of the main event than Sterling himself, who wound up on the wrong end of a technical knockout loss at the hands of O’Malley, costing him the Bantamweight title he worked so hard to get. But, aside from losing the strap and title of champion, the loss was a huge setback for “Funk Master’s” future career plans. That’s because he was adamant that this would be his last fight at 135 pounds before he bolted for potential greener pastures at Featherweight. Had he won, a title fight against current 145-pound champion, Alexander Volkanovski, could have very well been possible. Now, that is completely off the table even if Sterling does decide to move up a weight class he will now have to win a at least one high-profile Featherweight before he's considered for a championship bout. If he stays at 135 pounds, an immediate rematch doesn’t look promising, which means he will have to work his way back up to contention there, too.
For complete UFC 292: ‘Sterling vs. O’Malley’ results and play-by-play, click HERE.