UFC 292 blew the roof off TD Garden in Boston, Mass., last night (Sat., Aug. 19, 2023), featuring a Bantamweight title fight that saw Sean O’Malley stop Aljamain Sterling via technical knockout in the second round to win the 135-pound strap (highlights). In the co-headlining act, Zhang Weili dominated Amanda Lemos for five rounds to retain her women’s Strawweight title (recap here).
Winner: Sean O’Malley
Who He Should Face Next: Merab Dvalishvili
Sorry, “Chito” (and O’Malley), but Dvalishvili is the rightful owner of the next title fight. While “Suga” is already calling for a rematch against Marlon Vera in December, I unsure if UFC matchmakers will go for that while the No. 1-ranked fighter in Dvalishvili — who has won nine straight — is waiting patiently in the wings. “The Machine” is training partners with Sterling, so this opens up the opportunity for him to finally fight for UFC gold. Plus, Vera’s win over Pedro Munhoz wasn’t exactly a championship-fight earning performance. Or, is a rematch for Sterling in order?
Winner: Zhang Weili
Who She Should Fight Next: Tatiana Suarez or Yan Xiaonan
I wasn’t too sure that Suarez was going to get a shot at the title following her win over Jessica Andrade a few weeks ago in her first fight back at 115 pounds, but that win shot her all the way up to the No. 4 spot. I suggested a title eliminator fight between Suarez and Yan Xiaonan (No. 3), and if Weili wants to sit out for a bit, then that is still the move to make to see who gets the next shot. Or, UFC matchmakers could go ahead and skip the title eliminator route and award the title fight to one of those two deserving ladies straight away.
Winner: Ian Machado Garry
Who He Should Fight Next: Geoff Neal
After Garry thoroughly dominated Neil Magny to improve his perfect record (13-0, 6-0 UFC), he called for a showdown against Stephen Thompson to see who the better striker at 170 pounds truly is. It’s a challenge I didn’t think Thompson would shy away from, but according to Dana White that is exactly what happened. This would be a great return fight for “Wonderboy,” who has been the center of non-payment issues following the scale fail drama with Michel Pereira at at UFC 291, but we will have to move on. Neal was supposed to face Garry before he pulled out, so if he is fit anytime soon let’s re-book that fight. It sells.
Winner: Mario Bautista
Who He Should Face Next: Cody Garbrandt
I still want to see Bautista face Garbrandt. The two were in line to throw down at UFC 292 before a back injury sidelined “No Love,” paving the way for Da’Mon Blackshear to step in to fill the void. Bautista won a clear-cut decision against “Da Monster,” so now he can take a little bit of time and allow Garbrandt to heal up from his woes. Let’s not complicate this.
Winner: Marlon Vera
Who He Should Face Next: Henry Cejudo
Vera finds himself in a bit of a weird position at the moment. That’s because O’Malley wants to fight him in December, and if he gets it and UFC matchmakers approve, then by all means go for it. But, something tells me it simply won’t happen because Dvalishvili is the rightful owner of the next title fight at 135 pounds. Vera was supposed to face Cejudo at this event before he withdrew from the fight. So, why not book this fight on the same card as O’Malley vs. Dvalishvili and then we will go from there. Because let’s not forget: Cory Sandhagen is on a three-fight win streak, ranked above Vera and has a win over him, as well. Therefore, putting Vera in a title fight over the likes of Dvalshivili and Sandhagen simply does not make sense. Assuming, of course, he can recover quick from his recent injury.
For complete UFC 292: ‘Sterling vs. O’Malley’ results and play-by-play, click HERE.