clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Crossover? Demetrious Johnson: Sean O’Malley ‘would be a way tougher fight’ than Aljamain Sterling

UFC 292: Sterling v O’Malley Photo by Paul Rutherford/Getty Images

Sean O’Malley has proven to be as legit as they come after all.

UFC 292 was “Sugar’s” crowning moment in Boston, Massachusetts this past weekend (Aug. 19, 2023). Needing less than a minute into round two, O’Malley put away the now-former champion, Aljamain Sterling, with a picture-perfect right hand and some follow-up hammer fists to score the technical knockout (watch highlights).

O’Malley’s fellow 135-pound champion over in ONE Championship and former UFC Flyweight titleholder, Demetrious Johnson, was wildly impressed with the victory. Ahead of the fight, “Mighty Mouse” pondered how fighting Sterling would go and now imagines an O’Malley clash, feeling it would be no walk in the park.

“Me vs. O’Malley, that would be a hard-ass fight. A very, very hard fight,” Johnson said on MIGHTYcast. “There’s a guy in our gym, who — his name is Belal — his nickname is the ‘Spider Karate Kid.’ He moves just like ‘Sugar’ Sean O’Malley. He’s long, skinny, rangey, moves, [has] that karate background, spinning back kicks, tries to land that right hand. I have a hard time with him in the gym. Just because I’m trying to cross distance the whole entire time, I’m always trying to cross distance.

“But when I do finally cross that distance, I have my clinch game, I have my jiu-jitsu, I have my wrestling, is where I actually think I might be able to excel against ‘Sugar’ Sean O’Malley,” he continued. “But I have to be a realist, I have to live in reality. Trying to get to him, where he’s much longer, he might even be faster than me now that I’m old as s—t compared to some people out there, being 37 years old. He’s longer, he’s faster, he’s a way cleaner striker than I am. It would be so hard just to get to him. There is no yellow card in UFC so he can use his bike and lateral movement with time. He’s got a great jab, he’s got a great right hand.”

Johnson would be undersized in a hypothetical match up against O’Malley, but that wouldn’t be anything new for the all-time great. Standing at a mere 5-foot-3, Johnson’s career has been fought much more often than not against fighters bigger than him, resulting in a legendary 25-4-1 run in the sport with 14 overall title fight victories.

It’s unlikely that “Mighty Mouse” returns to UFC at this stage in his career, but in the case of an O’Malley super fight, he knows the strategy he’d try and impose.

“I would have to try to chop his tree down, leg kick him,” Johnson said. “As I’m trying to leg kick him, I got to make sure he doesn’t get a good check off so I don’t hurt my leg. That would be a way tougher fight than fighting Aljamain Sterling, right?

“When I see ‘Aljo,’ I’m like, ‘I like that fight,’ because he likes to come forward, he loves to cross distance,” he continued. “Maybe he doesn’t do it very good — well, he does do it good. But he exposes his chin like we saw the other night. But that fight against ‘Sugar’ Sean O’Malley, I’m a realist. That would be extreme, a very, very extreme fight. A lot of people are like, ‘Oh, man. You’d work both of ‘em.’ I was like, ‘Guys, come on. Let’s live in Earth. Let’s live in reality. There’s a lot of obstacles to overcome fighting a guy like ‘Sugar’ Sean O’Malley. It’s not like I would just outwork him. I think there are some parts in the fight I could work him, but the fight starts on the feet and I have to get my hands on him first and that would be the hardest thing to do.”


Who would win?

This poll is closed

  • 62%
    (290 votes)
  • 37%
    (172 votes)
462 votes total Vote Now

For complete UFC 292: ‘Sterling vs. O’Malley’ results and play-by-play, click HERE.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Mania Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Mania