MISSOULA — It's official: Sean O'Malley is fighting for a championship belt.
Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White announced on Tuesday afternoon that O'Malley — a native of Helena — has been officially booked to fight for the UFC's bantamweight title on Aug. 19 in Boston, Massachusetts at UFC 292 at the TD Garden.
— UFC (@ufc) May 16, 2023
O'Malley, 28, will get his first crack at fighting for UFC gold with the opportunity.
"The fight everybody's been waiting for," White said in his announcement video.
O'Malley will be the title challenger in the bout and he'll take on current bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling. Sterling, 33, won the title in March of 2021 and has defended it three times since.
The news of O'Malley's opportunity comes less than two weeks after Sterling defeated Henry Cejudo at UFC 288 to retain his belt on May 6. Afterwards, fireworks flew as O'Malley was in attendance and was brought into the cage as he and Sterling began chirping at one another to set up the future fight between the two. In the post-fight press conference, White confirmed that O'Malley was next for Sterling and the two continued to size up the fight in their interviews.
Nicknamed "Suga," O'Malley's shot at a UFC title is a long-time coming for one of the promotion's biggest stars and one of the highest-profile athletes to come from Montana. O'Malley is 16-1 with one no contest in his professional MMA career and is 8-1-1 in the UFC. He has won four of his last five fights — with the no contest in there as well — and the striker has 11 knockouts in his pro career.
It'll be a contrasting style of fights between two fighters well in their prime. Sterling, a native of Uniondale, New York, is a seasoned MMA veteran and decorated wrestler and grappler. He is 23-3 in his pro career and is 15-3 in the UFC.
"The Suga era is about to start. It starts with (Sterling)," O'Malley said after UFC 288 at the post-fight press conference. "Very excited. I'm not running low on motivation."