UFC bantamweight champion, Aljamain Sterling, believes Sean O’Malley is a legit contender at 135lbs.

‘Suga’ is fresh off an impressive return to the win column at UFC 259.

The 26-year-old put on a striking clinic against Thomas Almeida before earning a brutal KO in the third and final round.

During a recent interview with James Lynch, Sterling gave his thoughts on O’Malley as a potential player at bantamweight.

“O’Malley, I think he’s the real deal,” Sterling said. “We don’t know how good he is off of his back yet. But in terms of his feet, his footwork, he’s a tough out I think for a lot of people because he’s long, he’s rangy, and he knows how to move on the feet.” (Transcribed by BJPENN.com)

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‘The Funk Master’ refused to pay much attention to the fact the only time O’Malley has stepped up his level of competition, he was stopped inside one round by Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera.

“I think people kind of wrote him off too soon,” Sterling said. “The Chito fight was a very fluke-ish kinda scenario, not saying it was a fluke kick cause he threw the kick. But it was just one of those things like what are the odds that it actually happens.”

“The fight was just getting going, and if his foot was okay and the fight was going from there, when he was on the ground,” Sterling continued. “I don’t know, it makes it tough to take that away from Chito, but that kind of fight-ending could really put a damper on O’Malley’s performance what he was able to do one, two minutes before that. It was just such a short fight you can’t put too much stock into that.” (Transcribed by Essentially Sports)

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Do you agree with Aljamain Sterling? Is Sean O’Malley the real deal? Should fans look past his loss to Marlon Vera?

A lifelong fight fan from Liverpool, England who has been covering mixed martial arts (MMA) and boxing for several years. Follow @JordanEllisUK on Twitter for all the latest fight news, views, interviews and live event coverage.