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Midnight Mania! Coach: UFC ‘for sure’ wants ‘superstar’ Sean O’Malley to dethrone Aljamain Sterling

Welcome to Midnight Mania!

The relationship between Aljamain Sterling and UFC is strained, to say the least.

The UFC Bantamweight champion has defended his belt three times, most recently defeating Henry Cejudo at UFC 288 earlier this month. UFC President Dana White quickly lined up Sterling to face Sean O’Malley at UFC 292 in Boston, Mass., on Aug. 19, 2023, a rather quick turnaround for “Funkmaster.”

Since then, there’s been drama. Sterling is feeling the wear of three title fights in 13 months, and he’s unsure that his body will be ready to perform. Ever since he expressed those concerns, he’s been slammed by White, who argues that Sterling “can’t get out of his own way.”

Right or wrong, it all seems to favor the next challenger, Sean O’Malley. “Suga” has been preparing for a title fight since his October 2022 victory over Petr Yan, whereas Sterling enters an abbreviated camp potentially with injuries. If that’s intentional, O’Malley’s longtime coach Tim Welch wouldn’t be surprised.

When asked if UFC wants O’Malley to win on The MMA Hour, Welch responded (via MMAFighting), “Yeah, for sure. Having ‘Sugar’ be the champion, what other bantamweight in history has just one-punched people and walked off like Mark Hunt? A bantamweight. A tall, skinny kid with tattoos and curly hair, one-punching people and walking off. The UFC knows what they’re doing. ‘Sugar’ is a big superstar and the UFC helped with that, so I’m sure the UFC would love to see a KO artist that’s as flashy as Sean be the champion.”

Despite the momentum behind his athlete, Welch doesn’t underestimate Sterling. His fight team has experience against Sterling, and they’re well aware of his strengths, particularly on the canvas.

“Oh. for sure [Sterling is the toughest matchup]. For sure,” Welch continued. “Our professor, Augusto ‘Tanquinho’ Mendes, he won the ADCC and he’s very strong. He’s very strong and he’s one of the very best grapplers on the planet at the weight, and he’s even talked about how strong Aljo is. He’s just so physically strong, and he’s not only a good wrestler who is going to get on top and sit in the guard and not know how to pass the guard, he’s going to pass, he’s going to move to half guard, punch you, move to mount, take your back.

“He’s really good at jiu-jitsu and he’s an expert back-taker. You make one mistake with Aljo and he’s going to be on your back for the rest of the round. He’s physical and he’s an athlete, and he’s not super basic on his feet. He’s super funky on his feet, throwing random, kind of spazzy stuff. It makes it super dangerous. It makes him hard to prepare for. I definitely think he’s the most dangerous bantamweight.”


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This story originally appeared on MMA Mania

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