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Aljamain Sterling cautions ‘my body has to agree’ to UFC 292 because of lingering injuries

UFC 288: Sterling v Cejudo Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling has verbally agreed to fight Sean O’Malley at UFC 292. Whether he’s physically ready for it is another question.

Sterling on Thursday reported lingering injuries from his win over Henry Cejudo at UFC 288 and cautioned they may keep him from making “a sick, insane turnaround,” he said on his Weekly Scraps video podcast.

“I’m still injured, like with my legs banged up,” Sterling said. “My bicep still sucks. [I’m] supposed to get another MRI on that. I’m trying to get to this fight in August. We talked a little bit about it, and I’m trying to see if we can make it happen, but my leg is still super sensitive to the touch.

“I hope I’m not ruining anything by me saying that. But guys, I did just fight.”

The UFC on Wednesday announced Sterling vs. O’Malley to headline UFC 292 for Aug. 19 at TD Garden in the promotion’s first Boston event in four years. The bantamweights faced off in the octagon after Sterling’s win, exchanging trash talk and nearly setting off a melee when Sterling teammate Merab Dvalishvili stole O’Malley’s jacket.

Sterling picked up a split decision over Cejudo, earning two 48-47 cards opposite one identical score for the former two-division champ. It was his third bantamweight title defense.

Sterling noted improvement in an injury to his foot and physical therapy sessions to help him recover from the five-round fight. But he said he wasn’t out of the woods yet.

“We’re gonna see, because my shins are super sensitive,” he said. “Like, even just me touching it right now, they feel like mushy, almost, like I could push and make a dent in my leg. If you ever have something that’s squishy, and you squeeze it, and leaves like your handprint. That’s what I can do with my shin bone right now. It’s pretty crappy.

“So I’m hoping the sensitivity of that is gone in a couple of days, hopefully by next week, and then we could make sure that this is gonna happen. For real, for reals. I told him, yes, verbally agreed. But of course, my body has to agree.”

O’Malley earned his title shot with a win over ex-champ Petr Yan this past October and has remained sidelined in anticipation of a title shot. The 28-year-old has gone unbeaten in his past five fights.

In a recent interview with The MMA Hour, Sterling was open to the August timeframe and said O’Malley was a very winnable matchup.

The champ may have spoken too soon, however.

“It’s kind of like Manel Kape versus Deiveson Figueiredo,” Sterling said. “He thought he was good to fight, and then his eye, whatever, whatever. ... And then I have to touch my bicep again to see because I definitely feel like I tweaked it a bit in the fight. But it held up. So even flexing right now hurts.

“So, I don’t know, we’ll see. You guys have this inside scoop. I’m going to try to make this happen. This will be a sick, insane turnaround. But where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Check out Sterling’s podcast below.

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