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Sean O’Malley claims Thomas Almeida declined UFC 258 fight

Sean O’Malley
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Sean O’Malley hopes to return to action sometime this February even if a fan-friendly matchup at UFC 258 is no longer in the cards.

Speaking on The Sugar Show, O’Malley touched on a number of topics including his plans to compete at the upcoming Feb. 13 pay-per-view against veteran Thomas Almeida. O’Malley claims that the bout was in the works, but it was Almeida who declined.

“I was supposed to be fighting Feb. 13 against—I didn’t say it, because I didn’t know,” O’Malley said. “I got offered Thomas Almeida. He turned it down, he said my right hand was too powerful or something along those lines of COVID or something, so he turned the fight down. Good decision on his part, would have been a nasty KO.

“So we’re still looking, but that’s who I was planning on fighting. I never announced it because obviously it wasn’t official and it’s not going to be official. That fight’s not happening, still looking, but I plan on fighting in February.”

MMA Fighting’s Guilherme Cruz confirmed with a source close to the situation that Almeida did in fact decline the matchup.

O’Malley has been out of action since August when he fought Marlon “Chito” Vera at UFC 252. The bout ended in the first round when O’Malley suffered a foot injury and Vera capitalized to earn a ground-and-pound TKO victory. While on the shelf, O’Malley has been keeping a close eye on the bantamweight division.

One name that’s caught his eye is T.J. Dillashaw. The two-time UFC champion is expected to return in 2021 after serving a two-year suspension for the banned substance EPO and rumors of Dillashaw getting an immediate crack at a top opponent—possibly even current 135-pound titleholder Petr Yan—have O’Malley irked.

“How does this dude get caught cheating, stick a needle in his butt and then everyone’s like, ‘Oh, we respect him for coming out and admitting it,’” O’Malley said. “What do you mean admitting it? He got caught straight-up cheating. There’s no oh it could have came from this, it could have been this, it could have been this, that, or the other, it was straight cheating and you’re giving him a title shot? But he did his two years. I don’t know.”

O’Malley didn’t mention whether he’d want to fight Dillashaw himself, but he does have another two-time bantamweight champion in his sights. If the opportunity had presented itself, O’Malley would gladly have signed up for a fight with all-time great Dominick Cruz.

However, Cruz is reportedly next facing Casey Kenny, a friend of O’Malley’s. Though O’Malley sees the Cruz matchup as a missed opportunity for now, he’s predicting that he’ll put a show against whoever he is eventually booked to fight.

“Dominick Cruz vs. Casey Kenney just got announced. Casey Kenney’s one of my buddies I trained with for a while at the lab. That’s an interesting matchup. That’s another fight that I would have liked to get, was Cruz, but that didn’t happen, but that’s okay. I’m gonna fight someone and it’s gonna be sick.”

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