Tomorrow night in the main event of UFC 292, the bantamweight title is on the line. Champion Aljamain Sterling (23-3) is looking for his fourth successful title defense as he takes on one of the more popular fighters in the promotion in “Sugar” Sean O’Malley (16-1, 1 NC).
Last time we saw Sterling was back in May when he took on Henry Cejudo. Cejudo was looked at as Sterling’s toughest challenger and Sterling was able to get the win by split decision. He surprised many with how he was able to control Cejudo in some of the grappling exchanges.
Overall, it was Sterling’s ninth straight victory. As he continues to get older, he’s admitted that the weight cut to 135 is getting tougher and tougher. Sterling admitted that this could be his last fight at 135 if he’s able to defeat Sean O’Malley.
O’Malley gets this title shot on the heels of his close decision win over former champion Petr Yan. Overall, O’Malley is 8-1, 1 NC in ten fights inside the octagon. He’s bringing a lot of eyeballs to the fight tomorrow night and poses a number of challenges for the champion. However, will he be able to do enough to walk away UFC bantamweight champion?
UFC 292 Prediction
When it comes to the UFC 292 main event, I think we are going to learn a lot in the first round. At distance, we know that O’Malley is going to have an advantage. He’s a sniper of a striker and he has a lot of power. Sterling is comfortable striking from distance with his kicks, but we know he’d rather make this a grappling match than strike with O’Malley on the outside.
Look for Sterling to close the distance early on and try to get the fight to the ground. He’s going to try and zap the cardio of O’Malley and make the fight as grueling as possible. Both of these men have had cardio issues before so it would be interesting to see who would have the advantage in the championship rounds.
While there’s a world where I can see O’Malley hurting and stopping Sterling, I think the UFC title is going to stay where it’s at. I just think that when it comes down to it, Sterling is going to be able to drag O’Malley to the ground and eventually, he’s going to get in a position to finish. I’m seeing a third round submission for the champ.
Prediction: Aljamain Sterling by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) – Round 3