BOSTON — Aljamain Sterling‘s swan song at bantamweight could be Sean O’Malley‘s crowning moment and the birth of a new UFC superstar. Sterling will defend his UFC bantamweight title against O’Malley in the main event of UFC 292 on Saturday at TD Garden.
The matchup is rich with storylines. Sterling had indicated he will move up to featherweight after this bout, win or lose. If he wins, he puts himself among the best 135-pound fighters in the sport’s history. If O’Malley wins, he goes from being a fan favorite to a potential top draw for the UFC.
ESPN ranks Sterling No. 7 on its pound-for-pound MMA list. At bantamweight, he is ranked No. 1 and O’Malley is No. 4.
Sterling (23-3) has won nine fights in a row, the longest winning streak ever in the UFC bantamweight division. The New York native has three successful title defenses, tied for the most in division history. A win Saturday would put him ahead of both Dominick Cruz and TJ Dillashaw, who each had three title defenses over two reigns. Sterling, 34, has not lost in six years and has been champion since 2021.
O’Malley (16-1, 1 NC) is unbeaten in five straight. The Montana-born fighter who fights out of Arizona is 8-1 (1 NC) in the UFC. O’Malley, 28, has just one career loss — against Marlon “Chito” Vera at UFC 252 in August 2020 — though he doesn’t consider it a defeat because he suffered a leg injury during the bout. O’Malley is coming off a win over former champion Petr Yan at UFC 280 last October.
In the co-main event, Zhang Weili defends her UFC women’s strawweight title against Amanda Lemos. Zhang (23-3), a two-time champion, is coming off back-to-back finishes of former champions Carla Esparza and Joanna Jedrzejczyk. The 34-year-old China native has two losses, both to Rose Namajunas, in her UFC career. Lemos (13-2-1), a 36-year-old Brazilian, has won two in a row via finish and has stopped five of her seven victories in the Octagon.
Follow along as Marc Raimondi, Brett Okamoto and Jeff Wagenheim recap all the action or watch the fights live on ESPN+ PPV.