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Morning Report: Alexander Volkanovski praises Sean O’Malley as ‘one of the best strikers in the UFC’

UFC 288: Sterling v Cejudo Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Sean O’Malley has proven to be quite the knockout artist at 135 pounds.

“Sugar’s” golden opportunity finally arrives in the main event of UFC 292 in Boston, Massachusetts this Saturday night. The Dana White’s Contender Series alum O’Malley will look to halt the reign of Aljamain Sterling and send “Funkmaster” to the featherweight division fresh off a loss.

It’s a classic striker vs. grappler matchup at bantamweight despite Sterling’s continuously improving and tricky stand-up skills. O’Malley, 28, has been extremely aware of what his title-holding opponent will want to do once the octagon door closes. With the featherweight division in Sterling’s sight after a potential O’Malley win, the dominant champion of that division Alexander Volkanovski feels the stars could align for a big upset.

“I’m leaning towards Aljamain because I just think that that wrestling and that control and is gonna eventually get there,” Volkanovski said on his YouTube channel. “You know how sometimes you just watch someone’s story and it’s just like something is meant to be? Then you have Aljamain talking about definitely moving up [in weight] after this. ... A part of the story is does he lose and he was moving up anyway and Sean O’Malley, this whole rise that he’s done, becoming champion, massive superstar for the UFC. ... It could be — it feels likes sort of something that could happen. Beating Petr Yan? You know when someone just has that momentum and it’s just meant to be and it happens? I’m a believer in that sometimes, man, I really am.

“I feel like it could definitely be a TKO for Sean O’Malley because his striking is that good, but I will lean towards Aljamain, I think he has got a more safer way to victory. More percentage-wise, I’m always gonna go there, but it could definitely happen for Sean O’Malley. We know he’s gonna turn up. This is a massive fight for him. We know he wants to get paid and he knows what winning’s gonna do fo his paycheck. Being the champ, the money is good, we ain’t gonna lie about that.”

Volkanovski knows a thing or two about being champion, collecting five title defenses within his first four years holding the belt. A true Swiss army man, “The Great” sits atop the pound-for-pound rankings in a majority of the MMA community’s minds, and his recent dissections of superb strikers like Max Holloway and Yair Rodriguez support such thoughts.

O’Malley has earned respect from Volkanovski with his performances and with only one loss on his 18-fight record, the Helena, Montana native is finishing his opponents with strikes more often than not (11 KO/TKO wins, one submission). O’Malley has earned five of his eight UFC wins by knockout or TKO but arguably impressed spectators the most in his last fight; a back-and-forth fight-of-the-night effort against former divisional champion Petr Yan. The fight resulted in a split decision in favor of O’Malley to earn him this impending title shot and while he still garners plenty of criticism, he’s not hearing it from one of the absolute best.

“Sean O’Malley, I think he’s up there as one of the best strikers in the UFC, he’s right up there,” Volkanovski said. “Especially in that division. There’s so many — that’s a stacked division. You’ve got your [Cory] Sandhagens, obviously, Petr Yans, Aljamains, there’s so much talent.

“Man, it is a stacked division and I think he’s one of the best when it comes to striking. So that’s saying something. He’s very creative, doesn’t just throw flash stuff. It’s calculated. He’s got really good distance management, he’s really good at drawing strikes out of people and countering. He’s really good on the offense, coming forward. He’s good even on the back foot. He’s good on his angles. Very, very high-level stuff and he can be very creative while he does that.”


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TUF Hang - TUF 31: Ep. 12

Embedded 2.

Zhang vs. Lemos preview.

Free fight.

Edwards’ big moment.

PFL Playoff faceoffs.

Road to Championship.

Sterling BTS.

10 Things Michael Chandler Can’t Live Without.

Bisping reflects on UFC leg breaks.

Gym etiquette.


Heck of a Morning. MMA Fighting’s Mike Heck discusses where the bantamweight division goes if Sean O’Malley wins title at UFC 292.








Dang knees.


Smotherman got smothered.




Oh no.


Anthony Hernandez (11-2, 1 NC) vs. Roman Kopylov (11-2); Noche UFC, Sept. 16

Nate Maness (14-3) vs. Mateus Mendonça (10-1); UFC Vegas 80, Oct. 7

Darrius Flowers (12-6-1) vs. Ottman Azaitar (13-2); UFC Vegas 82, Nov. 18


I just can’t see O’Malley winning this one outside of Sterling fighting way stupider than he should. It’s just not a great matchup for “Sugar.” But hey, I’m no MMA Nostradamus.

Thanks for reading!



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