Bantamweight Champion Aljamain Sterling Takes Hiatus After Stunning Defeat

August 24, 2023 12:07 pm

Aljamain Sterling, the reigning bantamweight champion, has announced his decision to take a hiatus for the remainder of 2023 before embarking on a journey to recapture his title.

Sterling’s title defense journey took an unexpected turn after he underwent neck surgery following his controversial disqualification victory in March 2021. The “Funk Master” defied expectations, engaging in four intense battles from April 2022 until his recent appearance at UFC 292. In these confrontations, he successfully defended his title against former champions Petr Yan, T.J. Dillashaw, and Henry Cejudo. Enhance your MMA viewing experience with attractive odds from Nextbet

However, Sterling’s remarkable winning streak came to a halt when Sean O’Malley delivered a stunning knockout blow. This second career knockout loss has prompted the 34-year-old champion to regroup and seek redemption.

In his own words, Sterling expressed his thoughts, “Now Sean is the guy, he’s got the crown, kudos to him, his team… it’s up to me to hopefully get the rematch and if not get the rematch, maybe Merab [Dvalishvili] gets his crack.” He further mentioned his readiness to support Dvalishvili in his pursuit of the title. “For me, this isn’t that dark of an emotional time,” Sterling added, displaying resilience. “Can I get back? Will I bounce back? I’ve done it before, and I know I can do it again.”

Sean O’Malley’s victory has reshuffled the deck in the bantamweight division, creating new opportunities for contenders. While Merab Dvalishvili appears to be the most logical next opponent due to his impressive nine-fight winning streak, he is currently recovering from an injury. Hence, Marlon “Chito” Vera, who secured a unanimous decision victory over Pedro Munhoz at UFC 292, could be in line for a rematch with the new champion. In their previous encounter in August 2020, Vera handed O’Malley his only career loss via first-round strikes. Cory Sandhagen and Henry Cejudo are also monitoring the division’s developments, poised for potential opportunities.

Aljamain Sterling’s first knockout loss to Marlon Moraes in December 2017 served as a turning point in his career, igniting a remarkable winning streak. Throughout his career, Sterling has faced formidable strikers and relied on his wrestling skills. However, against O’Malley, he failed to execute his grappling prowess, which had become his trademark. Sterling reflected on the fight, acknowledging his mistake: “Credit to Sean. He stayed patient waiting for that clean shot to come. I made the one mistake he wanted me to make at some point during the fight.”

As Sterling takes a well-deserved break to recover and strategize for the future, the bantamweight division is in a state of flux, with a multitude of contenders vying for a shot at the title. The coming year promises to be an exciting chapter in the career of Aljamain Sterling and the UFC’s bantamweight division. Get the latest updates from the world of MMA, only on Nextbet Sports.