Sterling vs. O’Malley UFC 292 Picks

by | Last updated Aug 2, 2023 | mma

UFC 292: Sterling vs. O’Malley Picks

When: Saturday, August 19, 2023

Where: TD Arena, Boston, Massachusetts


Fight Analysis:

TD Garden in Boston will host a big card for UFC 292, with the UFC Bantamweight Title on the line as champion Aljamain Sterling defends against top contender Sean O’Malley. Boston is Dana White’s hometown, and the local faithful will certainly get behind a guy named O’Malley. But with Sterling, it’s never easy. Unbeaten since 2017, Sterling has already put together a championship ledger that places him among the most-accomplished 135-pounders of all time. Can O’Malley put a stop to the Sterling juggernaut, or will we see the coronation of a new bantamweight king?

Aljamain Sterling, 23-3 (3 KOs, 8 Submissions), (-275) vs. Sean O’Malley, 16-1 (11 KOs, 1 Submission), (+225)—Odds by Bovada

Aljamain Sterling makes his fourth title defense against challenger Sean O’Malley in the UFC 292 main event on August 19. Coming off a May split decision over ex-champ Henry Cejudo, Sterling continues to prove doubters wrong on this big championship run he’s on. After beating talented Cory Sandhagen in round one, he won by DQ to win the belt over Petr Yan, repeating the win in the rematch before adding big names TJ Dillashaw and Cejudo to his resumé. He now looks to add the name of O’Malley, a respected and dangerous contender.

Some people may have been led astray on the topic of Sterling. Winning the belt in a fight he was losing by DQ made it seem less real. And to some, maybe a split decision over Cejudo did the same. But using the closeness of his fights and his lack of finishing power against him hasn’t gotten anyone closer to cashing a ticket against the champion, either. People see a championship run that includes a DQ win, two split decisions, and a KO overspent TJ Dillashaw, and their mind plays tricks on them like beating Sterling is going to be easy. He hardly ever scores a KO, with only 3 in 26 fights, and over half of his wins have been by decision. So maybe he isn’t a KO artist, and surviving a protracted battle is his calling card, but mistaking that for ease in beating him has led to a lot of torn betting tickets.

O’Malley is not without hope. At 28, youth is on his side. He has experience, having been in the UFC for about seven years. His decision win over former champ Petr Yan in his last fight also proves he can hang in there and beat top 135-pounders. While Sterling is long for a bantamweight, it is O’Malley who has a 4-inch height advantage along with a slight edge in reach. So at least, he will be providing a new look to Sterling from a dimension standpoint. For this weight, his stature is a bit unique.

Bet on the fight winner, rounds, or TKO Y/N at Bovada!

O’Malley is eccentric, to be sure, but also seems like a mentally-present man who is thoughtful about his career and his fighting. I’d expect him to be well-prepared, having studied the reigning champion extensively. The trouble is that he will be fighting a guy who knows how to win. All his title fights looked to be close heading into the fight. He has been put through the wringer in terms of tough competition and has come out of it a winner. That includes multiple fights with Petr Yan, Henry Cejudo, and a large handful of recent tough bouts. In a lot of those spots, Sterling wasn’t a favorite, or if he was, it was by a modest margin. And in the last six years, he has managed to pull through all of them. Winning itself is a talent, and Sterling knows how to cultivate a fight so that he’s the one who ends up in the winner’s circle.

O’Malley’s M.O. will be to go out there and throw strikes. He has an advantage in this area, as his KO record would attest. He can rough guys up inside but seems to do most of his damage when he has room to punch, lashing out those long strikes that do a lot of damage when they find their mark. For Sterling, it might be a new look being that it is he who usually possesses advantages in height and reach, enabling him to use those assets as a form of defense against incoming fire. Will he show the same aptitude in assuaging strikes against the longer O’Malley?

It’s just that Sterling is such an all-around force. He may not have a lot of KOs, but you still don’t want to be getting caught with kicks, punches, knees, and elbows from a capable striker, which he is. His wrestling is the best in the business, and he has shown the ability to grind guys down, hurt them, and sap their spirit. Unlike the challenger, who has yet to see the fourth round in an MMA match, Sterling has shown he can thrive over the 25-minute distance multiple times. He has also shown that when the lights are at their brightest, he is able to deliver something not everyone can do until they show that they can.

It is understandable why those who follow MMA would favor the more fan-friendly O’Malley. There is still some residual bad mojo surrounding Sterling for how he won the title on a DQ when some felt he could have continued and that he won the title cheaply. It’s just that those details won’t relate to what happens in the octagon on August 19 in Boston, and you don’t just get through a series of fights like what Sterling had by accident. I see Sterling surviving some anxious moments before quelling O’Malley on his way to a decision win.

My Pick to Win: I’m betting on Aljamain Sterling at -275 betting odds. While a young, colorful, and dangerous contender, O’Malley’s routes to victory seem less plentiful than those of the champion. Sterling will be at a striking deficit, but he has a way of making that advantage less of an overall factor. Sterling’s multi-faceted skills, toughness, and durability should be enough to get him the win.

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