At UFC 292, Aljamain Sterling was coerced into facing Sean O’Malley.
The former bantamweight champion fiercely defended his championship against Henry Cejudo over five rounds in May. Sterling found himself under pressure from the UFC to take a match against O’Malley in August. Even though it’s an exceptionally short turnaround at the championship level, Sterling finally decided to take the risk.
A key motivation behind Sterling’s acceptance of the bout was the financial aspect. O’Malley was touted as a rising star similar to Conor McGregor.
But according to Sterling, O’Malley’s popularity didn’t transfer into pay-per-view (PPV) sales. Sterling was paid a portion of that as champion.
As a result, he was not impressed by the drawing power of Sean O’Malley.
Upon analyzing the PPV numbers, Sterling expressed disbelief. He stated in a video: “I got the pay-per-view numbers, and me and her were going through it, and I’m just like, ‘These are the numbers that this guy was trying to say he’s this big pay-per-view star?’”
“When I saw the numbers, I literally said to her, ‘If I had any idea this is what the numbers would have been, if I could have predicted that this is what it would have been, my ass would have waited and taken my vacation then.”
He went on to say: “I rolled the dice. I trusted that the bag was going to be this blow-me-away kind of thing, bigger than all the other ones — it wasn’t. With that being said, it is what it is. I’m still happy I made some extra money. I had a really good year. I can’t complain about that, life’s good. I can take care of myself, my family.”
Both combatants have since moved on from their clash. Sterling has transitioned to featherweight and is poised to make his 145-pound debut against Calvin Kattar at UFC 300 on April 13. Meanwhile, O’Malley is gearing up to defend his bantamweight belt against his long-standing rival Marlon Vera at UFC 299 on March 9.