Sean O’Malley Coach Tim Welch Casts Doubt on His Fighter’s Ability to Beat Aljamain Sterling at UFC 292

O'Malley coach Tim Welch shared some candid thoughts on his fighter's chances against Aljamain Sterling at UFC 292

Tim Welch
Courtesy of @SI on Twitter / @diaztwinsmma on Instagram

Sean O’Malley’s long-time coach, Tim Welch, is feeling a lot of pressure going into the biggest fight week of his fighter’s career. 

On Saturday night, ‘Sugar’ will step under the main event spotlight at TD Garden in Boston for a bantamweight title tilt with reigning 135-pound king, Aljamain Sterling. Ahead of the highly anticipated clash, Welch sat down with Kacper Rosolowski and Denis Shkuratov of Submission Radio to discuss his mindset going into their first shot at UFC gold. 

“It’s pretty nerve-wracking and I think it’s so nerve-wracking just because of the challenge ahead,” Welch said. “Aljo is just so strong and he’s so funky on the feet and when he grabs a hold of you, it’s a nightmare. So it’s a little bit more nerves than usual because Aljo is such a beast, but it’s a big cage. Five five-minute rounds. Planning to just focus on what we can control and enjoying fight week.

“I think the nerves are going to bring out the best in ‘Sugar.’ The bigger the stage and the more pressure and the more chaotic it is, the more comfortable it is for Sean, but for me, it’s going to be a challenge. The whole fight camp has been a challenge. It’s been a long, long fight camp with a lot of hard, grueling training and then it all comes down to that moment. That night. That 25 minutes in the Octagon.”

Likely adding to the pressure is the fact that Welch sees their UFC 292 opposition as the greatest bantamweight fighter in the history of the division. 

“I really do think he’s the greatest bantamweight of all time. And people debate that, saying, Dominick Cruz is and stuff, but look at his resume,” Welch added. “You gotta take out the fact that T.J. [Dillashaw] was hurt because that was no one’s fault, but T.J.’s that he stepped in there. And how good Cory Sandhagen is. He’s so good and skilled and Aljo took him out in under [two minutes].

“And how big of a beast and how confident Henry Cejudo is. Explosive boxer. Olympic champion. Just a beast of an athlete and one of the best competitors out there and then Aljo beats him also. I think it’s pretty easy to say that Aljo is the best bantamweight there’s ever been.”

Tim Welch is Admittedly Uncertain How Things Play Out at UFC 292

In the months leading up to their bantamweight title showdown, Sean O’Malley has made it a point to troll the champ whenever possible on social media, gloating about long nights of deep sleep and big delicious dinners. Much of it has led fans to believe that O’Malley is coasting through training camp, but Tim Welch was quick to quell those claims. 

“We’ve been working hard for a lot of years. People just see what’s on social media and see us messing around and goofing around, but really our lives are pretty boring,” Welch continued. “We just train and go home, and then train and go home and hang out. That’s pretty much what we do all the time and sometimes there’s some stuff on social media that goes out there, but really our lives are pretty boring.”

Welch continued, “He’s a good athlete and he’s very disciplined with his routines and he has good coaches. I don’t have to call him and say, ‘Hey bro, we need to get into the training session. We need to get here.’ He’s there a half hour early every single training session. He’s one of the hardest workers. He’s one of the most disciplined people I’ve ever met and he’s a great athlete behind it.” 

Thus far, that hard work has paid off, leading O’Malley to an impressive 8-1 record inside the Octagon against a plethora of talent who have all tried to stymie his explosive offense to no avail. 

“Everyone’s game plan against Sean is pin him against the cage,” Welch said. “Pin him against the cage and try to take him down and you see very good guys trying to stalk him and it’s way harder than they think. But I think Aljo’s such a good athlete. He’s so funky and he’s going to take risks. He’s going to try to grab Sean. He’s going to take a big risk and that’s also going to be able to open up the knockout for us.

“Sean can knock people out with every one of his limbs. So if [Sterling] lunges in at the wrong time, he could get some knuckles bounced off his chin and it could be the end of the night.”

Despite all their hard work and immense success inside the Octagon, Welch is still admittedly uncertain when it comes to his fighter’s chances of leaving Bean Town with UFC gold wrapped around his waist. 

“I don’t know if he can beat Aljo,” he admitted. “I think he can and we’ve prepared for that, but we’re going to find out the real answer on Saturday.”

Published on August 14, 2023 at 4:55 pm
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