After losing his title at UFC 292, what’s next for Aljamain Sterling?

MMA: UFC 280-Sterling vs Dillashaw
Craig Kidwell-USA TODAY Sports

This past Saturday night in the main event of UFC 292, the bantamweight title was on the line. Aljamain Sterling (23-4) was searching for his fourth successful title defense as he was taking on “Suga” Sean O’Malley (17-1, 1 NC).

Entering the bout, many were not giving O’Malley much of a chance to beat Sterling. The general thought was that Sterling would be able to get O’Malley to the ground and once it was there, the striking sensation would be in a world of trouble. O’Malley actually has good ground skills but nothing like Aljamain Sterling.

Sterling wasn’t able to track down O’Malley in the first round. The challenger did a great job of defending a couple of shots as well as use his footwork to maintain distance. He did that well in the second round and then Sterling made a big mistake.

Sterling lunged forward with a left hand that missed and left himself wide open for a counter. O’Malley punished him with a huge right straight that sent Sterling to the mat. O’Malley followed up and the fight was called off crowning Sean O’Malley the new UFC bantamweight champion.

What’s next after UFC 292?

This is a crushing loss for Aljamain Sterling. Sterling deserves all the credit in the world for becoming champion and defending the title. However, there were so many fans who were turned off by his entire title reign. He won the title by DQ. Had a couple of decisions which some thought he lost then he defeated TJ Dillashaw by TKO when Dillashaw was hurt.

There was never that definitive win where he was so dominant that he showed he was light years ahead of the rest of the division. Now, those doubters will be even louder after he got stopped by Sean O’Malley. The future for the former UFC champion is a little cloudy after Saturday night.

He had thought about moving up to 145, but he admitted he’s not sure he can do that after Saturday’s result. I think for now his best option is to stay at 135. With that, what’s next? Sterling wants an immediate rematch, but I don’t think it happens despite the fact that Sterling had three successful title defenses.

I think he’ll need to have a title eliminator next. A couple of options would be Chito Vera or a rematch with Henry Cejudo. It honestly depends on who gets the next title shot, but I think Sterling will get a title eliminator and if he wins, he could get a shot to regain his title next spring.

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