Aljamiain Sterling is giving Sean O’Malley some props for his methodical UFC rise.
The UFC bantamweight title picture might not include Sean O’Malley just yet, but the rising star in the division has title aspirations. O’Malley has had eight fights in the UFC so far and has at times taken criticism for the level of his competition. The only loss of his UFC record so far has been against Marlon Vera, who is currently sitting in the top five.
This slow rise up the rankings by O’Malley has caught the eye of the champion, Aljamain Sterling.
“I think he’s smart, genius,” Sterling told The Schmo via BJPenn.com. “That’s kind of what I wanted to do, take my time, build my name up, get some good wins over unranked opponents where I could capitalize on my grappling but still get time to work on my stand-up in real-time,” Sterling said.
Sterling is now the champion but when he was first a young fighter in the UFC he was pitted against some tough competition. Sterling does not believe O’Malley has had the same difficult path that he has.
“I had to jump into the top 10 in like my third fight,” he explained. “For him, he’s been able to take his time this entire trek, fighting Paiva who should not have been ranked in the first place. I think he’s tough, he’s smart, he’s doing it the right way, doing it his way on his terms and he’s making good money. He’s utilizing the UFC platform and parlaying that into other opportunities for him.”
Sterling has now solidified his position as champion with his first title defense. From this moment on, he will presumably face the best available.
As for O’Malley, he has his next assignment on tap. He is scheduled to face Pedro Munhoz, who is ranked number ten in the division, in July. If O’Malley continues to win and rise up the rankings he could be facing Sterling eventually, either for the title or not.
Do you think Sean O’Malley has what it takes to be a UFC champion one day?