UFC bantamweight contender Sean O’Malley feels Aljamain Sterling is taking time away from the Octagon for a reason that he refuses to admit.

O’Malley defeated former bantamweight champion Petr Yan at UFC 280 last month. It was a ‘Fight of the Year’ contender that O’Malley won by split decision, although many believed Yan deserved the nod.

O’Malley has surged to the top spot in the bantamweight division title picture following the victory. He’s expecting a title fight for his next Octagon appearance, although that could be a while as Henry Cejudo vs. Sterling is reportedly a ‘done deal’.

A timeframe for Sterling’s next title defense is uncertain after he recently announced he plans on taking time off following two five-round training camps in 2022. He’s expressed a profound interest in facing O’Malley next as opposed to taking on Cejudo for the latter’s return.

O’Malley is ready to go as soon as March for a fight, although that could be pushed back if his recently-alluded thoughts on Sterling are true.

Sean O’Malley Questions Premise Behind Aljamain Sterling’s Hiatus

Image Credits: Chris Unger/Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC

During a recent appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience, O’Malley and Joe Rogan spoke about the state of the division and Sterling’s planned absence.

“I mean, you’re in a fuckin’ shark-infested pond, man. That is such a shark-filled section of MMA,” Rogan said to O’Malley. “That 135-pound division is wild, man. And no one weighs 135 pounds  [LAUGHS].”

O’Malley then revealed that Sterling allegedly blew up in weight after UFC 280. These weight-management issues, O’Malley believes, are the real reason why “The Funkmaster” wants a break, not just because of the injuries he has cited.

“I heard Aljo say he was like 170 or something the other day,” O’Malley said. “I’m like, ‘What the fuck?’ No wonder he doesn’t want to fight till July.”

Fighters usually enjoy their time in between fights by indulging in heavy food and drinks, although O’Malley likes to stay in shape to make his weight cuts as stress-free as possible.

O’Malley then questioned Sterling’s reasoning behind taking a lot of time off before an Octagon return.

“I walk around 157, 158,” O’Malley revealed. “I feel like that’s prime. If he’s walking around at 170, that’s fuckin’ big…

“I will not get above 160 because I know I have to eventually make weight… if you want to be champion — look at Adesanya. He’s fighting all the time. If you’re gonna be champ, you gotta be ready to go. And you can’t get that big.”

Sterling defeated TJ Dillashaw at UFC 280 in his second title defense. He earned the belt via disqualification at UFC 259 before defeating Yan in their rematch at UFC 273.

Leading up to UFC 280, Sterling gave his fans an inside look into his weight-cutting process and how he eats once he makes weight. He didn’t appear to have any significant issues cutting to 135lbs and hasn’t missed weight during his UFC tenure.

As O’Malley prepares for a potential title shot next, he feels Sterling’s reasoning for a vacation is due to his weight fluctuations. He might face another top contender for an interim belt if Sterling plans on taking an extended period off.

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