Sean O’Malley understands why he recently came under fire from Aljamain Sterling for comments he made about the UFC bantamweight champion’s rematch with Petr Yan not being a main event.
Sterling and Yan were initially set to run it back at UFC 272 in March. But when Max Holloway withdrew from his scheduled trilogy clash with Alexander Volkanovski and the Australian’s next featherweight title defense was pushed back to UFC 273 in April, the bantamweight unification fight went with it.
Responding to news of the re-arranged schedule on a podcast episode, O’Malley said it was surprising that the two titleholders in arguably the most stacked division in the promotion aren’t seen as headline-worthy, a comment that didn’t sit well with the reigning champion.
Sterling was quick to fire back, throwing O’Malley’s ‘not big enough’ claim right back at him. “Funk Master” suggested “Sugar” should fight some top opponents before opening his mouth.
O’Malley Sympathizes With Sterling’s Frustrations
During the latest episode of the YouTube podcast he hosts alongside his brother, O’Malley briefly addressed Sterling’s reaction to his remarks.
The Montana native said he understands why the champ took offense to his words, especially given the way his champion status has been discredited because of the way he won the belt last March.
“When I said I’m surprised that Petr and Aljo can’t main event (on) their own, I was saying that like, I’m genuinely surprised the UFC doesn’t just have them (headline). It’s a main event in the most stacked division in the UFC,” said O’Malley. “And he (Sterling) took that as an offensive comment, which I get. But then he also agreed. He’s like, ‘blah, blah, blah… but he’s right.’
“So I was saying it like, I’m surprised they don’t just main event (UFC 272). They could, 100%. Would it do crazy numbers? No, but they could be its own main event, that’s what I was saying, and he did not like that,” added O’Malley. “He got offended and started going off. But he also agreed. He’s like, ‘Yeah well, they would have to build a big card around (us),’ which means put me on the card. But I get it. It would be frustrating to be the champ and not be respected as the champ, and the way he won; I get it. I like Aljo, he seems like a good dude.”
While it may not have main event status, the second clash between champion Sterling and interim titleholder Yan is sure to bring heat and fireworks during fight week and fight night.
Given that it’ll have been over a year since their first meeting when they collide at UFC 273, it’ll be interesting to see if Sterling has made the necessary adjustments to match Yan inside the Octagon, something he largely failed to do at UFC 259 despite emerging with the title.
Do you agree with Sean O’Malley? Was it surprising that the UFC didn’t bump Sterling vs. Yan 2 to main event status at UFC 272?
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