The “Suga Era” is officially upon us!
Six years after some kid named Sean O’Malley won his fight on the second season of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series and smoked a blunt with Snoop Dog, that kid is now UFC’s newest Bantamweight champion.
Indeed, O’Malley claimed the belt by knocking out big betting favorite, Aljamain Sterling, in the second round of their UFC 292 pay-per-view (PPV) main event (watch the whole fight here). It’s still unclear who his first title defense will be against ... or when. O’Malley has said he’d like Marlon “Chito” Vera in December. Others have called for him to fight the much more stylistically difficult No. 1-ranked Merab Dvalishvili.
While we expect UFC to serve up Vera first (because money), O’Malley’s head coach and close friend, Tim Welch, made it clear that they don’t fear “The Machine.”
“I think if you got a real special striker, like someone like Izzy or Volk or these guys, they see Sean and they’re like, ‘Wow, he is a problem,’” Welch said on a new episode of Submission Radio. “But, then you have stupid people like Henry Cejudo and stuff that think they’re just going to go in there and kick his legs and they’re gonna take him down easy. That’s all you gotta do is just kick his legs and pressure him.
“I think that might have put a little fear in Merab also,” he added. “Because Merab makes a lot of those mistakes [as Aljamain Sterling] too. Yes, he’s got a scary, scary gas tank, he’s gonna come forward the whole time, but he reaches, and he does a lot of bad stuff fundamentally, too. So, if that fight happens eventually, he’ll probably knock Merab out, too.”
O’Malley came into his fight against Sterling with a bad rib injury, and while they weren’t able to train any grappling ahead of the pivotal 135-pound showdown, they did drill that slick step back counter that knocked Sterling to the canvas (watch it).
“That literally was probably the main sequence we drilled all fight camp,” O’Malley’s coach said. “All fight camp. Trying to bait him in, trying to bait him into rushing in. All of his fights, he starts in the southpaw position, he walks forward with the left hand into an opposite stance.
“But the problem is, if you’re not good — and you’re not good enough with your range with that — there’s a point in that sequence where your feet are squared up,” Welch continued. “And ‘Suga’ floated perfectly out of the way. Throughout that fight camp, we probably did that exact same sequence with that right hand and me walking forward with my left hand over like 100s of times ... 100s of times.”
As for Welch’s thoughts on the referee stoppage, which has become something of a talking point on forums and social media networks?
“I talked to Aljo in the cage, I could see he wasn’t all there,” Welch said. “His eyes weren’t all there. Sean said he saw his eyes roll back a couple times when he bounced his head off the canvas, and he was bloodied up, and it was a good stoppage. It really was.”
For complete UFC 292: ‘Sterling vs. O’Malley’ results and play-by-play, click HERE.