Aljamain Sterling: ‘It’s hard for me to put a lot of stock’ in Sean O’Malley’s win over Marlon Vera at UFC 299

Aljamain Sterling rates Sean O'Malley’s skills highly, but can’t help but question his opposition.

Bantamweight champion O’Malley (18-1 MMA, 10-1 UFC) notched his first title defense Saturday in the UFC 299 headliner with a shutout of Marlon Vera (21-9-1 MMA, 15-8 UFC) – avenging the lone loss of his career.

O’Malley has openly said he’d be willing to fight Merab Dvalishvili next, but called out UFC featherweight champion Ilia Topuria in his post-fight octagon interview, which bothered Sterling.

“The only thing that rubbed me the wrong way a little bit again – and you can call me salty about it, call me a hater, but I stick up for my boys and I hope you guys do, too – but he should have called out Merab and did the right thing,” Sterling said on his YouTube channel. “I think it’s kind of ridiculous of him to say, ‘Dana, get the jet to Spain.’

“Like, what are you talking about, dude? You defended the belt against a guy who wasn’t even ranked in the top five, they moved him up to the top five to make it look like he was better, like he fought a top-five opponent. How did ‘Chito’ move up in the rankings? Who did he beat to move up in the ranking?”

Sterling, who lost his bantamweight title to O’Malley this past August, thinks Vera was never the one who should have gotten a title shot. Naturally, he’s vouching for his good friend and teammate Dvalishvili.

“I feel like there’s been another title fight, and I don’t want to say names,” Sterling said. “There’s been another title fight where a guy wanted to avenge his loss and the guy was ranked in the top 15, and he won. But it’s just one of those things where, ‘Yeah, you won, but it’d be nice to fight the guy who’s next in line.’

“So that’s the only thing that I feel a little bit awkward about, because I’m like, yeah you won, but you won against a guy that we were all expecting you to beat. So as a champion, it’s hard for me to put a lot of stock in that because I just can’t respect it as much.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 299.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie