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Aljamain Sterling promises to make Sean O’Malley pay for ‘Dana White privilege’ at UFC 292

Aljamain Sterling enters his next title defense with a sizable chip on his shoulder.

There has been no shortage of trash talk between Sterling and opponent Sean O’Malley ahead of UFC 292 in Boston this Saturday, where Sterling goes for the fourth straight defense of his bantamweight title in the main event. The two have been on a collision course with Sterling fending off decorated challengers in Henry Cejudo, T.J. Dillashaw, and Petr Yan, and O’Malley blazing a path to the No. 1 contender spot with highlight-reel knockouts and a ubiquitous social media presence.

Days away from the fight, Sterling has seen and heard enough of O’Malley and he’s ready to squash the beef. Literally.

“I want to smash this guy’s face,” Sterling said at an open Q&A in New York this past weekend. “I want to smash the ugly mole rat, the naked mole rat that he is. When I take this man down, that naked mole rat is getting smashed. Smashed.

“I want him to pay for everything that he said, all the trash talk, everything, all his Dana White privilege. I didn’t have none of that, and I can’t wait to take it out on him.”

Sterling has long held the belief that O’Malley is one of the UFC’s favored sons, in contrast to his own path that has been marked by several perceived slights. “Funk Master” was rarely featured on UFC main cards while he was rising up the rankings, which is in contrast to the strong promotional push O’Malley has received since earning a contract on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2017.

That tense dynamic was front-and-center in the negotiations for the Sterling-O’Malley fight, with Sterling publicly expressing his frustration with another title bout being announced so soon after his fight with Cejudo, and O’Malley questioning Sterling’s commitment.

Sterling took a moment to clear the air when asked if he has been “forced” to fight at UFC 292.

“I don’t like using the word ‘forced,’ but it was decided before I had an opportunity to discuss my health and things like that,” Sterling said. “After I had an opportunity to talk to Hunter and clear the air with everything, they did some good things behind the scenes, which made it more comfortable for me to oblige.

“And when I look at the positives, it’s my second main event. It’s against a very, very big name who’s got a lot of Instagram followers that are kids who play Fortnite all day long, so it’s a good opportunity to showcase my skill set to those younger crowds and take all his little fans. That’s really what it’s all about, it’s a great opportunity.”

Both fighters have expressed their confidence that they will finish the other and Sterling is standing by that prediction, though he’s not particular to putting O’Malley away with strikes or adding to his impressive impressive list of submission victories.

“My prediction, second-round TKO. But if he gives me his neck, he’s got that long ‘Daddy Long Neck’ out there, so if he leaves that out there I’m going to strangle his ass.”

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