MOST POPULAR

Phoenix fighter Sean O’Malley upsets Aljamain Sterling for UFC bantamweight title

Aug 20, 2023, 2:05 PM | Updated: 2:06 pm

Sean O’Malley throws a kick against Aljamain Sterling during their Bantamweight title fight at UF...

Sean O’Malley throws a kick against Aljamain Sterling during their Bantamweight title fight at UFC 292 at TD Garden on August 19, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Paul Rutherford/Getty Images)

(Photo by Paul Rutherford/Getty Images)

BOSTON (AP) — In his first bid for the UFC bantamweight title, Sean O’Malley stopped defending champion Aljamain Sterling 51 seconds into the second round of a scheduled five-round main event at UFC 292.

Early in the second round, O’Malley (17-1), of Phoenix, dropped Sterling with an overhand right. With Sterling on the mat, O’Malley hammered him with left hands to the head until referee Marc Goddard stopped the fight.

“The fight played out the way I thought it would,” O’Malley said early Sunday. “I thought the longer I could keep the fight on my feet the better chance I’d have. The odds of not getting taken down once in 25 minutes was very high. I’m glad it played out like it did.”

O’Malley, 28, entered Saturday night’s fight ranked second in the bantamweight division and was fighting in a five-round bout for the first time. He vowed to hold the title for a dozen years.

“In my mind, Aljamain Sterling is the best bantamweight of all time,” O’Malley said. “But I’m looking to take this all the way to 2035.”

The 34-year-old Sterling (23-4) entered the fight with 10 straight wins and was making the fourth defense of his title.

“I have no excuses,” said Sterling, who is from Uniondale, New York. “He did the one thing I knew he’d be good at, the stepback counter. He caught me. I made one mistake and I paid for it.”

Sterling expressed an interest in a rematch.

“I’d 100% want a rematch,” he said. “He’s good at what he does. I’m good at what I do. I’d like to run it back.”

Sterling attempted a takedown with 30 seconds left in the first, pinning O’Malley against the fence before the round ended. All three judges scored the first round for Sterling.

“I have no excuses,” Sterling said. “He did the one thing that I thought he’d be good at, the stepback counter. I made one mistake and he capitalized on it.”

O’Malley first reached prominence in 2017 when he was the champion of the first season of Dana White’s Contender Series.

The only fighter to defeat O’Malley, Marlon Vera of Ecuador, won a three-round unanimous decision against Pedro Munhoz of Brazil in the opening bout of the main card. The scores were 30-27 (twice) and 29-28. Vera, who stopped O’Malley in the first round on Aug. 15, 2020, improved to 21-8-1 and is the sixth-rated bantamweight in the UFC.

“In my mind (the loss to Vera) didn’t happen,” O’Malley said. “I’d still do it again.”

O’Malley also talked about fighting Gervonta Davis, a lightweight boxing champion, in a boxing match.

“If it’s big enough, the UFC could definitely get involved in it,” he said. “I absolutely want to do it. I don’t really follow boxing that much, but he’s undefeated and I want to do crazy big fights.”

In the co-main event, Zhang Weili of China retained her strawweight title with a five-round unanimous decision against Amanda Lemos of Brazil.

The scores were 50-43, 50-44 and 49-45.

“The only challenge I have is myself and the only thing I try to do is be better than I was yesterday,” Zhang said.

Zhang (24-3), who was in her second reign as champion, kept Lemos (13-3-1) on the mat for most of the fight.

In the fourth, Lemos had a little success while they were on their feet, landing a right hand that briefly put Zhang on the mat. But Zhang got up and brought Lemos to the mat with a takedown and landed several knees to the head.

“She’s unbelievably tough,” Zhang said. “I respect her. There were so many times in the fight I thought I had her out.”

Most Popular

Christian Pulisic #10 of the United States lifts the trophy as United States players celebrate winn...

Associated Press

US beats Canada to win CONCACAF Nations League title

The United States beat Canada 2-0 on Sunday night for the Americans' second straight CONCACAF Nations League title.

11 months ago

Associated Press

Arcangelo wins Belmont Stakes to make Jena Antonucci 1st female trainer to win the race

Arcangelo won the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, making Jena Antonucci the first female trainer to win the race in its 155 years.

12 months ago

Associated Press

Kentucky Derby runs into more obstacles ahead of big race

The cast for the 149th Kentucky Derby was rewritten again hours before the race Saturday when early favorite Forte was scratched.

1 year ago

Jesus Ferreira #9 of the United States celebrates after scoring a goal in front of the American Out...

Associated Press

Ferreira goal gives USA exhibition tie against Mexico at State Farm Stadium

The United States tied against Mexico 1-1 on Wednesday night in an exhibition at State Farm Stadium in Glendale.

1 year ago

Associated Press

Aryna Sabalenka wins 1st Grand Slam title at Australian Open

Aryna Sabalenka won her first Grand Slam title by coming back to beat Elena Rybakina in the Australian Open women’s final.

1 year ago

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - JANUARY 10: Zamir White #3 of the Georgia Bulldogs celebrates his touchdown...

Associated Press

UGA football player killed in car wreck after title celebration

UGA OL Devin Willock and a recruiting staff member were killed early Sunday in a car wreck, the school said.

1 year ago

Phoenix fighter Sean O’Malley upsets Aljamain Sterling for UFC bantamweight title