Aljamain Sterling is throwing some shade at Sean O’Malley.
Aljamain Sterling is the bantamweight champion. He is the man all the other bantamweights need to beat if they want to be on top. There is, however, one man who is getting under the skin of the champ, and that man is Sean O’Malley.
Sean O’Malley likes to trash talk. He has begun calling out several different fighters and creating some conflict with many in the division. And recently, he has gained the attention of the champion as well.
Aljamain Sterling is looking at O’Malley as more of an inconvenience at this time than an immediate threat. O’Malley is now in the top 15 of the bantamweight rankings for the first time but has only faced one ranked opponent. That ranked opponent was Chito Vera, and O’Malley did not win that fight. Sterling believes O’Malley wasted that opportunity of fighting Vera when it came around and has since continued fighting handpicked opponents that he never got the chance to face on his way up.
“You had your shot; you blew it,” Sterling told The MMA Hour. “We all get our opportunities. You had an opportunity, and you blew it. So if you wanna say Paiva is the guy that should give everyone more hype around him again, I don’t know, man. The UFC didn’t give me those opportunities to fight tailor-made matchups when I came up. My third UFC fight, I fought a guy who was ranked sixth in the world, Takeya Mizugaki. And ever since then, I have not left the UFC’s top 10 of ranked contenders and guys that were within the top 10 and top 5.”
Sterling has had 15 fights in the UFC so far in his career and had 11 wins before he was granted a title shot, and he seized that moment. Although the fight with Petr Yan ended in a DQ for Yan, causing Sterling to walk away with the belt, Sterling is now champion nonetheless. Even as champion though, Sterling is not on the same level of fan favoritism as O’Malley is.
O’Malley has had eight fights in the UFC with only one loss. He is a character outside the cage and puts on a show inside the cage. O’Malley has been criticized for not fighting ranked opponents on his rise up, but now that he sits at number 12, that should all be changing. If Sterling is unhappy with his fast start in the division, he should be happy now that he is the champ and will have the chance to create his own path going forward, starting with a rematch with Yan later this year.
Do you think Sterling was rushed along his path faster than O’Malley is?