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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.”
Jiri Prochazka is collaborating in some manner with fellow Czech athlete, Adam Ondra, who is arguably the strongest rock climber alive.
UFC is likely heading back to Atlantic City late this year.
Per sources: UFC is targeting a December return to Atlantic City, NJ. Likely a fight night, this would be UFC’s first AC trip since 2018
— Jake Noecker (@JakeNoeckerMMA) May 25, 2023
Sean Strickland and Chris Curtis have started a podcast! I will surely be tuning in the next time “Action Man” comes up short in controversial fashion.
You guys asked for it for some reason and we finally got around to doing it. Episode one is in the books. The Man Dance podcast with Chris and @SStricklandMMA is coming soon. Stay tuned pic.twitter.com/MsdaWBVRCp
— Chris Curtis The Action Man (@Actionman513) May 25, 2023
Belal Muhammad is back working with Khabib Nurmagomedov once again.
The larger of the two Bonfim brothers has a second UFC fight booked!
Demian Maia’s half guard sit up into the single leg takedown was world class! Lots of opponents tried to stop it, but few succeeded.
Jalin Turner is working out with Khamzat Chimaev in Abu Dhabi, and holy crap “The Tarantula” is a huge Lightweight!
Slips, rips, and KO clips
A gentlemanly knockout:
Remember when all the UFC events had captions?
#OTD 15 years ago. UFC 84: Ill Will
-Penn x Sherk
-W. Silva x Jardine
-Reljic x Gouveia
-Machida x Ortiz
-T. Silva x Mendes
-Palhares x Salaverry
-Carwin x Wellisch pic.twitter.com/0MaxOuIez6
— Neo Vale Tudo (@NeoValeTudo) May 24, 2023
Muay Thai mastery.
Anantasak Panyuthapum is one of my all time favorite fighter, and it’s a mystery to me why he’s not as popular as he should be.
Insane left hand, amazing in the clinch.
So beautiful to watch. pic.twitter.com/vxuRxcTG6o
— Sweet Punch Memories (@SPM_staff) May 23, 2023
The insect world is terrifying.
Midnight Music: RIP to the great Tina Turner.
Sleep well Maniacs! More martial arts madness is always on the way.
This story originally appeared on MMA Mania