Sterling implores O'Malley to 'stop ducking the top contenders'
Former UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling has had enough of Sean O'Malley's unwillingness to grant him an immediate rematch.
Sterling called O'Malley out after winning a grappling match at Polaris 25 on Saturday, telling the titleholder to defend his belt against him or No. 2-ranked bantamweight Merab Dvalishvili next.
"I got a message for Mr. Suga T--s - because he's still that to me," Sterling said in his post-match interview on UFC Fight Pass. "Hey, give me my rematch or fight Merab. It's that simple.
"Stop ducking the top contenders and be a man and be a real champion and fight the best of the best. That's what I did. Now you need to turn around and do the same exact shit. Let's go."
Sterling, one of the greatest bantamweights in UFC history, lost the 135-pound title to O'Malley via second-round TKO at UFC 292 in August. Sterling planned to move up to the featherweight division with a win over O'Malley, but he said immediately after the fight he wanted to try to regain the bantamweight belt.
Since UFC 292, O'Malley has set his sights on a rematch with Marlon Vera. Vera, the No. 6-ranked bantamweight, handed O'Malley his sole pro defeat in 2020.
While nothing has been finalized, it's likely that O'Malley's first title defense - whether against Sterling, Dvalishvili, Vera, or someone else - will take place in the first quarter of 2024.
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