Aljamain Sterling acknowledges his misstep in attempting to put on a thrilling fight against Sean O’Malley at UFC 292, a mistake that ultimately cost him greatly. He chose to overlook the lessons of history in his most recent title defense, and the result was a costly one.
In his consecutive main event in UFC’s pay-per-view, Sterling, who is no longer the bantamweight champion, confessed his desire to entertain, even though the crowd seemed to favor his rival, O’Malley. He didn’t want to take a more conservative approach to guarantee a win; instead, he aimed to provide an engaging fight rather than a dull one.
Sterling praised O’Malley’s discipline at the UFC 292 post-fight press briefing, stating, “He stuck to his strategy, while I let my desire to make the fight more thrilling for the fans influence me. We’ve had bad fights before where not much happens as no one wants to make a major error. I made that error, Sean took advantage of it, and I suffered the consequences.”
Prior to the match, many believed Sterling’s wrestling and grappling skills would overwhelm O’Malley. However, Sterling only attempted two takedowns during their short time in the cage, and the rest of the match was fought on their feet.
Sterling became aware that striking was O’Malley’s greatest asset against him, and he unintentionally fell into that trap, particularly when he was caught by a counter right hand that marked the end of his title.
O’Malley’s footwork was even better than Sterling expected. He said, “I tried to replicate it in training, but it’s different when someone does it to you. I couldn’t catch him consistently. He was really good at evading me.”
Sterling lamented not taking the fight to the ground but admitted that O’Malley’s timing and a beautiful counter right caught him off guard.
The crowd’s negative reaction towards Sterling didn’t phase him. He said, “I could have turned it into a dull match, and then I might not have lost. But the boos don’t bother me. I’m just glad there was a crowd reaction.”
O’Malley’s victory crowns him as the new champion, leaving Sterling to ponder his future moves. Initially contemplating moving up to featherweight had he won, Sterling is now reassessing those plans, especially with the aspiration to have a rematch with O’Malley in the near future.
“I believe I’ve earned the right for an immediate rematch,” Sterling stated. “I will remember this night for a very long time, and it will drive me to achieve even bigger and better things.”