“The Suga Show” arrived on the big stage in style as Sean O’Malley captured the undisputed UFC bantamweight title at UFC 292.
O’Malley stopped bantamweight champ Aljamain Sterling early in the second round after dropping the champion hard with a perfectly-timed straight-right counter during the opening exchanges of the round as the former Contender Series graduate followed in the footsteps of Jamahal Hill by becoming the second fighter from Dana White’s talent-finding show to go all the way to a UFC title.
After a very cagey opening round between the pair at the TD Garden in Boston, O’Malley connected perfectly with a counter right to drop Sterling to the canvas, then swarmed the fallen champion and hammered him with strikes until referee Marc Goddard stepped in to wave off for the fight 51 seconds into the round.
After his win, O’Malley paid respect to Sterling before calling for a December title defense against the only man to defeat him, Marlon Vera, who picked up a victory earlier in the evening against Pedro Munhoz.
Sterling, meanwhile, was all class in his post-fight interview as he congratulated O’Malley on his victory, and admitted he had a lot of soul-searching to do before making a decision on which weight class he would compete in moving forward. His plan was to defend the belt against O’Malley, then move up to 145 pounds to challenge featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski. But, after his TKO defeat, he admitted he may have to rethink those plans.
Zhang retains strawweight strap in dominant fashion
In the co-main event, Zhang Weili retained her UFC women’s strawweight title with a dominant performance against Brazilian contender Amanda Lemos.
Zhang finished the fight with the largest total strike differential in a women’s fight in UFC history, and scored a personal best for takedowns as she completely dominated Lemos throughout the five-round title matchup.
Lemos showed tons of grit, toughness and fighting spirit as she refused to be finished in a bout that offered her only a couple of fleeting positives. Those included a tight D’Arce choke that Zhang managed to escape, and a flash knockdown of the champ in the fourth round. Beyond those moments, however, Lemos struggled to prevent Zhang from dominating as she consistently landed on the Brazilian, then took her to the mat and dominated from top position.
In the end, the judges were called into play, and they scored the bout 50-43, 50-44, 49-45 as “Magnum” retained her title and cemented her spot at the top of the 115-pound division,
Garry dominates Magny, calls out “Wonderboy”
Irish contender Ian Machado Garry showcased his continued evolution as a world-level welterweight with a three-round domination of perennial contender Neil Magny.
After a tetchy build-up to the fight that saw tempers fray during fight week, Garry used his superior striking to comprehensively defeat Magny, with his leg kicks proving to be his most effective weapon.
Garry dropped Magny with his first leg kick, then repeated the feat with his second as he found his mark immediately with his attack of the American’s lead leg. Garry went on to consistently hammer Magny’s leg to send him to the canvas several times over the course of the bout. But, with a leg-kick TKO seemingly there for the taking, Garry instead looked to finish “The Haitian Sensation” by knockout, and ultimately couldn’t quite find the strike to put the tough veteran away.
In the end, the judges were called into action, with the scorecards reflecting Garry’s dominance. One 30-24 scorecard appeared a litle overzealous, but the two 30-26 scores accurately illustrated Garry’s superiority as he ran out a comfortable winner.
After his win, Garry thanked the Boston crowd before calling for a five-round bout with former welterweight title challenger Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson.
Bautista denies Blackshear back-to-back success
Bantamweight Mario Bautista proved to be just too busy for the returning Da’Mon Blackshear, who made an instant turnaround to compete in Boston, just one week after fighting and winning at the UFC Apex.
Blackshear became only the third fighter to win via twister submission last weekend in Las Vegas, and he answered the call to face Bautista on a week’s notice after Cody Garbrandt was forced off the fight card due to injury.
The bout itself was a competitive one, but Bautista was a step ahead in most of the exchanges as he outstruck Blackshear, while threatening to finish him on the mat.
Bautista had a tight guillotine choke locked up late in Round 2, but Blackshear managed to fight his way free. Then, in the final round, Bautista briefly looked in position to lock up a twister on Blackshear, but the fight continued all the way to the judges’ scorecards.
Bautista’s aggression and output, coupled with his superiority on the mat, meant he got the nod from the three Octagonside judges, who scored the bout 29-28, 29-28, 30-27 to extend his winning streak to five and push him closer to a bout with ranked opposition.
Vera claims crucial win
The main card kicked off with an all-action bantamweight scrap as Marlon Vera outpointed Pedro Munhoz.
Munhoz appeared the busier fighter through the first two rounds, but Vera’s rapier-like jab was a constant throughout the fight, and his sharper, cleaner work held sway with the judges compared to the Brazilian’s slightly higher volume.
Vera saved his best round for last as he started to tee off on Munhoz, who kept his record of never having been stopped as a pro as the bout went all the way to the scorecards.
The judges all saw it Vera’s way, with two scoring it 30-27 to “Chito,” while the third saw him winning it 29-28.
UFC 292: Official results
- Sean O’Malley def. Aljamain Sterling via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 0:51– for bantamweight title
- Zhang Weili def. Amanda Lemos via unanimous decision (50-43, 50-44, 49-45) – for strawweight title
- Ian Machado Garry def. Neil Magny via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-24)
- Mario Bautista def. Da’Mon Blackshear via (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
- Marlon Vera def. Pedro Munhoz via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Brad Tavares def. Chris Weidman via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Gregory Rodrigues def. Denis Tiuliulin via knockout (elbows) – Round 1, 1:43
- Kurt Holobaugh def. Austin Hubbard via submission (triangle choke) – Round 2, 2:39
- Brad Katona def. Cody Gibson via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
- Andre Petroski def. Gerald Meerschaert via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
- Natalia Silva def. Andrea Lee via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Karine Silva def. Maryna Moroz via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 1, 4:59