In the main event reigning Bantamweight king Aljamain Sterling welcomes hype machine Suga Sean O’Malley for what is likely his last title defence before he moves up a weight class. In the co-main China’s Zhang Weili goes toe to toe against one of the pound for pound hardest hitters in MMA in Amanda Lemos and Neil Magny takes on rising star Ian Garry. We take a look at my best bets on the UFC 292 card below.
UFC 292 Preview & Betting Picks
Aljamain Sterling vs. Sean O’Malley
Aljamain Sterling has staked his claim as the best Bantamweight of all time with wins over former champions Petr Yan, TJ Dillashaw and Henry Cejudo. He uses volume striking to push his opponents back to the fence and then secures takedowns. He is a human backpack once he has control of his opponents.
Sean O’Malley on the other hand is a striker, who is one of the hardest punchers in the UFC, as evidenced when he turned Petr Yan into a wrestler. He has built a strong highlight reel on the back of some kind matchmaking.
Many are writing him off here as on paper Sterling just dominates him in the grappling and will ride out rounds. If it was 12 months ago, I would back the champ to remain Bantamweight champion but with the shift to judges scoring for damage he can’t just backpack O’Malley like he did Yan after being cracked for the opening minute and expect to win the round. Sterling also has a bad tendency of dipping down the pipe when shooting for takedowns and knees up the middle are one of O’Malley’s best weapons. I think Suga is a great chance of either registering a knockout and becoming a global name, or doing enough damage to win by decision, albeit one that would be greatly debated.
Zhang Weili vs. Amanda Lemos
Zhang Weili continues to build a handy resume and round out her skills. She meets Amanda Lemos this weekend, who is a power puncher but lacks much else. The Brazilian has been outgrappled multiple times in her UFC career and through the tutelage of Henry Cejudo Weili has developed a strong wrestling game to exploit that deficiency. I expect her to fight smart, take this fight to the mat and look for submissions. Back the champ to remain on top, with her big test to come in Tatiana Suarez likely next.
Austin Hubbard vs. Kurt Holobaugh
This TUF finale sees Austin Hubbard and Kurt Holobaugh lock horns in an exciting clash. Holobaugh is 0-4 in the UFC and has been near abysmal against anyone who can wrestle. Hubbard has also had his wrestling struggles but holds a big advantage in that department here.
Holobaugh won’t be able to bully his counterpart and I expect Hubbard to land the more telling shots on the feet and mix in his wrestling on route to a comfortable victory.