LAS VEGAS – By his own admission, 2023 has been a “long, crazy year” for Aljamain Sterling. This is due in large part to the way that his UFC bantamweight title reign has played out.
Sterling successfully defended his title at UFC 288 on May 6 by winning a divided decision against Henry Cejudo. Afterward, he expressed his desire to take just a little time off – one month to decompress – before jumping back into training camp for a fight with Sean O’Malley. However, the UFC was determined to book them as the main event for UFC 292 on August 19, roughly three months after their debut.
That put a lot of pressure on Sterling and even though the date was sooner than he would’ve liked, he accepted. And then he lost his title to O’Malley by second-round TKO in Boston.
“It is what it is,” Sterling told MMA Junkie recently on the World MMA Awards red carpet. “I got rushed back a little bit. No excuses, I fought. The better man won that night.”
Sterling expected to get a rematch, given the way things played out. His three consecutive title defences before the loss had set a bantamweight world record. Sterling had hoped that the next title fight would be given to his opponent.