Aljamain Sterling disappointed by Sean O’Malley PPV sales: ‘These are the numbers that this guy was trying to say he’s this big PPV star?’

Aljamain Sterling says that Sean O’Malley isn’t quite the star he would have you believe.

In August, Sterling faced O’Malley in the main event of UFC 292. O’Malley won the fight by second-round knockout, claiming the UFC bantamweight title, and potentially creating MMA’s next big superstar. But Sterling is a little skeptical of that. As the then-bantamweight champion, Sterling received a cut of PPV revenue and given how big the fight was supposed to be — billed as the biggest in bantamweight history — “The Funk Master” admits to being disappointed with the actual numbers.

“I was just watching something with my lady and I got the Pay-Per-View numbers, and me and her were going through it, and I’m just like, ‘These are the numbers that this guy was trying to say he’s this big PPV star? Oh my god,’” Sterling said on his YouTube channel. “When I saw the numbers I literally sat there — if I had any idea that this is what the numbers would have been, if I could have predicted that this is what it would have been, my ass would have waited and taken my vacation then and geared up to fight now. Because this is ultimately when they said I would be able to fight, January, February, March, because if I didn’t fight in August they wouldn’t have had any other ‘spots.’

“It is what it is. I rolled the dice. I trusted that the bag was going to be this, wow, blow me away, bigger than all the other ones. It wasn’t. So with that being said, it is what it is. I’m still happy I made some extra money. I had a really good year. Life’s good.”

Disappointing PPV numbers is especially unfortunate for Sterling as he didn’t take the fight under ideal circumstances. “The Funk Master” successfully defended his bantamweight title against Henry Cejudo in May and was then cajoled into a three month turnaround to face O’Malley. Sterling made it clear that ultimately he chose to fight and so he can live with the result, but believes it may have cost him the title.

“I know the circumstances. The guys who follow the sport and knew my situation, how I was coerced into that fight — ultimately, it was my decision,” Sterling said. “It was never like, ‘If you don’t do this, you’re cut. If you don’t do this, we strip you of your belt.’ It was, ‘This is the situation. You either take it or you don’t.’ I decided to roll the dice and things didn’t go my way. If I had more time to heal, I think the outcome maybe would have been a little bit different. That’s just my two cents, but who knows?”

That being said, Sterling was also clear that he doesn’t blame O’Malley for any of this, saying that “Sugar” simply took advantage of his opportunity and that he’s the one who messed up.

“There’s a lot to be said about fight, when you make those decisions in the heat of the moment. I made a bad decision,” Sterling said. “He had good instincts, and when I made the decision and put it there for him, my man capitalized. I can’t take anything away from him for that. If I were to do that 100 times, and have the best training camp of my life, he still catches me like that if I go and make the same exact mistake, because he’s trained. So respect where it’s due, from my vantage point. But I do know that I just don’t make mistakes like that and I think it was more frustration from like, ‘I just want to be done fighting.’ It is what it is.”

The fight with O’Malley ended up being Sterling’s final fight at 135 pounds, at least for now. The former bantamweight champion is now set to make his featherweight debut against Calvin Kattar at UFC 300 in April, and though Kattar isn’t a top-five opponent, “The Funk Master” hopes that with a good performance, he might find himself in another title fight sooner rather than later.

“They would have given me a bigger fight if there was an opportunity,” Sterling said. “One of the early names was Arnold Allen, but I did ask for the O’Malley rematch and maybe that’s why I didn’t get the Arnold Allen fight. I do think they would have given it to me, it’s just that the cards didn’t align, and for whatever reason, Arnold is fighting Movsar Evloev and this is the fight that works out for me.

“Still a fun fight, still a guy that puts me in a great spot. If I win and I can look good doing it, and Alex Volkanovski wins, and depending on who wins between Arnold Allen and Movsar Evloev, depending how that fight goes, I could be a shoo-in for a title shot. It just depends on the performance.”

UFC 300 takes place on April 13 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

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