Daniel Cormier believes that the decisions Aljamain Sterling made while he was champion may have given him an unrealistic expectation for how Sean O’Malley will handle things during his own title reign.
“Funk Master” famously won the UFC’s bantamweight title when he was illegally kneed by Petr Yan at UFC 259, but he went on to defend the belt on three occasions before he was stopped by O’Malley at UFC 292 in August.
Sterling recently hit the mats at Polaris 25 and won a grappling match against Mike Grundy before he called out “Sugar” to defend his title, which encouraged Cormier to share some thoughts on the matter on his YouTube channel.
“So Aljo after the competition today says, ‘Fight me and give me my rematch, or fight Merab [Dvalishvili]. Do what I did, fight the number one contenders, stop ducking.’” Cormier said. “Here’s the issue, Aljo. It’s not the same. It sucks, but it’s not the same. It’s not the same based on decisions that the champ made, or the former champion Aljamain Sterling made. Why? Because I recall when he won or defended his title for the first time in Jacksonville, he said right away ‘I’m gonna take some time off.’”
Daniel Cormier: Sean O’Malley “Moves To The Beat Of His Own Drummer”
“Funk Master” competed four times in a little over a year after he returned to action as champion at UFC 273, and Cormier argues that O’Malley isn’t about to let the UFC force him into that same level of activity if it doesn’t suit him.
(Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)
“I [told Ryan Clark], ‘He’ll be back sooner than he’s saying. Because they’re gonna back the truck up to him and they’re gonna pay him.’…I said immediately ‘This dude’s gonna get active. He’s gonna be very, very active, he’s gonna be put to work more often than most champions.’ And that right there is why it’s different than Sean O’Malley. Because Sean O’Malley has shown time and time again that he is going to do what he wants to do, when he wants to do it. And he’s done it publically…O’Malley moves to the beat of his own drummer.”
O’Malley was out of action for close to a year before he stepped into the Octagon at UFC 292 to win the title from Sterling. “Sugar” has proposed a few different options for his first title defense, but he still seems most interested in avenging his only career loss by taking on Marlon Vera in a rematch of their fight from 2020.
Sterling had been planning a move to the featherweight division prior to being stopped at UFC 292, and if he fails to get an immediate rematch with O’Malley it will be interesting to see how the promotion tries to match him up going forward.
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