(All stats according to UFC’s Record Book and Fight Metric as of August 16, 2023, and only include active athletes in their respective division unless noted otherwise)
Main Event: Aljamain Sterling vs Sean O'Malley
Key Stats: 4 submission wins (tied 3rd all-time among BW), 1:08:36 control time (1st all-time among BW), 2.02 takedowns averaged per 15 minutes
What It Means: “Funk Master” is an apt nickname for the bantamweight champion. His style is best described as “funky.” What another fighter might deem awkward or unconventional, Sterling makes hyper effective. He’s large and strong for the weight class with a wicked-tight grip strength, so if he gets his hands on his opponent, he can have his way in grappling exchanges. While his wrestling isn’t the cleanest, his MMA grappling game is lethal, and he has a knack for finding his opponent’s back. Once there, he can dominate and often find a submission. On the feet, he likes to dip and duck a bit, but they conceal his takedown attempts and set up better than expected strikes. Sterling is a very effective kicker out of both stances.
UFC Breakdown | UFC 292: Sterling vs O'Malley
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UFC Breakdown | UFC 292: Sterling vs O'Malley
Key Stats: 7.47 strikes landed per minute (1st all-time among BW), +4.04 striking differential (1st all-time among BW), 60% takedown defense
What It Means: O’Malley is a sniper on the feet, and while his power is present, it’s his quickness that stands out when he is stringing together combinations. Nearly everything O’Malley throws is set up with feints, which he commits to with conviction. He’ll stay on the outside, happy to throw front kicks to the body to manage range before coming inside with punches. His range management is key to his takedown defense, but if his opponent does get in on him, he has shown good fundamentals and urgency getting back to his feet.
What to Look For in the Fight: Sure, this is a striker-vs-grappler matchup, but it does have its wrinkles. Sterling isn’t a mauling wrestler, but his jiu jitsu can catch the best of grapplers off-guard. O’Malley has great length, range and speed for the division, and his strikes come with pinpoint accuracy that can rattle his opponents in a blink. Sterling can set a high pace, but he cannot pressure with reckless abandon. O’Malley will need to utilize every bit of his good footwork and quickness to maintain range and prevent Sterling from getting a hold of him before finding the knockout shot.
Co-Main Event: Zhang Weili vs Amanda Lemos
Key Stats: 5.79 strikes landed per minute (3rd all-time among WSW), +1.73 striking differential (5th all-time among WSW), 0.3 knockdowns per 15 minutes (4th all-time among WSW)
What It Means: Zhang is a spring-loaded cannonball of a fighter who checks every box on the mixed martial arts skill tree. On the feet, she is incredibly quick. She always throws multiple strikes at a time and possesses good power in her hands. Up close, she loves getting into a clinch to throw knees and elbows with real authority. “Magnum” has rounded out her wrestling, as well, and is able to wrap up submissions with the same aggression she shows on the feet.
Key Stats: 1.27 knockdowns per 15 minutes (1st all-time among WSW), 7:22 average fight time (Shortest all-time among WSW)
What It Means: Lemos is a powerhouse. Her one-punch power might be the hardest in the division. She has a knack for catching opponents on the end of her punches, and she has as much power shooting a straight shot moving backward as she does in her overhand. Her accuracy on the move and in the pocket makes a difference, as well. She is physically strong in the clinch and finds her windows for attacks off the break.
What to Look For in the Fight: While both women are keen to bring the fight, Zhang might find success using her footwork and speed advantage to pull Lemos into shots. She should also find a path to victory if she mixes in her grappling, at the very least to give Lemos another element to think about. If it’s a straight striking battle, Zhang might have the volume and speed, but Lemos only needs one shot to land and change the tide of the fight.
Other Fights to Watch (Neil Magny vs Ian Machado Garry, Marlon Vera vs Pedro Munhoz)
Key Stats: 21 wins (1st all-time among WW), 2.25 strikes absorbed per minute (4th), 14 decision wins (1st all-time among WW)
What It Means: Magny is the stone-cold definition of a crafty veteran. He is solid in each aspect of MMA, and while he is good at utilizing his length on the feet, his strongest area might be in his clinch work against the fence. There, he wears on his opponent and mixes up the fight enough to make use of his great pace and cardio. Magny is a mindful fighter, often minimizing danger and finding the path of least resistance to victory. That’s not to say he avoids the fight. He is more than happy to stand close and exchange and is technically sharp everywhere.
Ian Machado Garry
Key Stats: 55.8% significant strike accuracy (2nd all-time among WW), 6.85 strikes landed per minute (3rd all-time among WW), +2.76 (2nd all-time among WW)
What It Means: “The Future” is an excellent striker. Everything he throws comes off with perfect technique, and once he finds his range and rhythm, watching him string together combinations is a beautiful sight. He does well to use his long-range weapons to maintain distance, and he will flow smoothly from punches into kicks and vice versa. His grappling hasn’t been as tested, but he does show good fundamentals defending takedowns and reversing clinches along the fence.
What to Look For in the Fight: The classic veteran vs rising prospect fight in which Magny often finds himself is a good test for Garry. Magny, a short-notice replacement for Geoff Neal, will push Garry’s all-around skill set, and if Garry passes this test, he’s a real force in the welterweight top-10. Magny might try to get inside and nullify Garry’s long-range striking. Against the fence, Magny can grind away at the Irishman while finding his own success. For Garry, his speed and footwork will come in handy as he tries to maintain range.
Key Stats: 10 finishes (1st all-time among BW), 10 knockdowns landed (1st all-time among BW), 1.07 submissions per 15 minutes (7th)
What It Means: “Chito” is a notoriously slow starter, but he also fights with the swagger of a man who knows he can end the fight in an instant. On the feet, Vera’s kicks are his best weapons. He can throw effective low kicks out of either stance, and he masks body and high kicks to great impact. His hands are slick, as well, but his offense does really stem from his kicks. On the ground, he has a good squeeze on his chokes when he can get to his opponent’s back.
Key Stats: 7 total fight night bonuses (2nd all-time among BW), 7 knockdowns landed (7th all-time among BW), 5.3 strikes landed per minute (7th)
What It Means: Munhoz is an all-action, pressure-forward fighter that makes him a fan-favorite. “The Young Punisher” makes up for his smaller stature with forward pressure, heavy leg kicks and big power in his hands. He is more than eager to step into the pocket and exchange punches. While he can play the technical game, as well, Munhoz believes in his chin, toughness and technique to get the job done when the fights get a little chaotic.
What to Look For in the Fight: While both men are keen to put on a show any time they step into the Octagon, Munhoz probably wants to make this fight a little uglier and scrappier, while Vera will have more success in a technical battle. Vera plays with range well, and Munhoz has a lethal guillotine, which often discourages opponents from shooting for a takedown. Watch for Vera to start quicker than his last outing against Cory Sandhagen.