Aljamain Sterling appears to have had a change in heart when it comes to moving up to featherweight following his fight with Sean O’Malley at UFC 292.
Sterling, who lost his UFC bantamweight title to O’Malley via knockout, had previously said he was almost certainly going up to 145 following the fight.
“This is more than likely my last fight at 135,” he told a surprised Ariel Helwani. “There’s a 99.9 percent chance this is my last fight at 135.”
Aljamain Sterling says there's a "99.9 percent chance" this is his last fight at bantamweight 👀 #TheMMAHour
"It’s Merab [Dvalishvili’s] time. The second part of that is, I’m a little bit over cutting weight, this much weight.”
— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) August 14, 2023
“It’s (teammate) Merab’s (Dvalishvili) time, man. It’s Merab’s time and then the second part of that is, you know, I’m a little bit over cutting weight. This much weight,” Sterling explained. “I walk around 65-70. I think I could bulk up, I don’t have to ‘bulk up’, but I think I could hold that frame relatively better. And I think my conditioning and everything could actually go up a little bit more, back to when I was younger.”
But then UFC 292 happened. And now it appears that Sterling has done a 180.
“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,” Sterling said on his YouTube channel (h/t MMAFighting). “I’ll be there to help him prepare for that fight but we’ll see what’s next. Until then I’m happy to just sit on the sidelines, take my vacation, take time to get better. We’ll see what’s next for me in 2024.”
If Dvalishvili, who is Sterling’s teammate at Serra-Longo Fight Team, wins the title then maybe Sterling follows through with his original plan. But it sure sounds like he has his sights set on a rematch with O’Malley.
Which could make for some interesting tension should get a shot at the title prior to his teammate.