clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Morning Report: Sean O’Malley believes he’s ‘a couple fights’ from the title

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Earlier this week, Henry Cejudo made his retirement official, vacating the UFC bantamweight title. Cejudo’s departure leaves the 135 pound division in a state of uncertainty, with the UFC having thrown out a few options, including a possible four-man tournament to crown a new champion. But though the short-term future for the division may be up in the air, rising contender Sean O’Malley believes the long-term future of the division will arrive soon.

Speaking with The Luke Thomas Show yesterday, O’Malley discussed the current state of the bantamweight division, and argued that, despite being unranked, he’s only a few fights away from the title.

“There’s four people they talk about for the bantamweight title,” O’Malley said. “No one is really standing out. No one is really like, ‘This is who we want to be our champ.’ I win a couple more fights, I’m that guy. I’m the guy that people are gonna want to see, the bantamweight champ. And I’m gonna go out there and perform like I did last time, against Eddie (Wineland), and whoever I fight next, I’m gonna go out there and do the same thing.

“I’m only a couple fights away from the title, because if you look at the rankings, they don’t really matter. You had Jose Aldo ranked, what, number six in the bantamweight division? He’s never even won. You had Dominick Cruz coming off a loss fight (for the belt). The rankings don’t matter. I think those top four dudes right now, (Aljamain) Sterling, (Petr) Yan, Cory (Sandhagen), and . . . Marlon (Moraes), those top four dudes are killers. They’re high level blackbelts in MMA. But no one is talking about them. No one is like, ‘That’s the dude.’ No one is that interested. I’m that guy. I’m the guy that’s going to come, knock these dudes out, get my title shot, and I’m gonna be champ. It’s gonna be people want to see me there, and it’s going to be exciting.”

O’Malley burst into the UFC with a sensational knockout on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2017. White saw star potential in the MMA Lab disciple and quickly brought him to the UFC where he has thrived inside the cage. Outside the cage though, O’Malley was set back by a prolonged ordeal with USADA that saw him lose two years of his career. He finally returned in March of this year with his best performance to date, a head kick KO of Jose Albert Quinonez at UFC 248, and O’Malley is clearly making up for lost time, with a fight scheduled against Eddie Wineland set to take place next month at UFC 250. Wineland is a longtime veteran of the sport and O’Malley believes this fight is the springboard to ranked opponents, and ultimately, a UFC title shot.

“I think it’s a perfect next step up, next match,” O’Malley said. “Beating him, he’s not one of the top top guys right now but he’s a vet, he’s got a weird style, and I think beating him definitely shows I’m as good as I say I am. But it’s not like I’m beating someone in the top 10 right now, so I think I go out there, beat him, it shows that the hype is real, but I’ve still got a lot to prove.”

But given his budding star power, if O’Malley can impress against Wineland, he could be fast-tracked to the top of the division, and with plenty of time left in 2020, O’Malley says he could even be fighting for the title as early as next year, assuming the UFC wants to pay.

“Yeah, probably (I’ll fight for the belt next year). I’m honestly not in a hurry,” O’Malley said. “It depends how much the UFC, if they’re gonna pay me what they pay me now I’ll be like, ‘Yeah, I fight other guys.’ If you want to pay me more money to fight better guys, I’ll fight the better guys. But I’m not going to fight the better guys right now with the money you’re paying me right now. It just doesn’t make sense from a business perspective. From a fighter’s mind, I want to obviously fight the best guys in the world. I want to be champ. But in a business mindset, it’s like, ‘Okay, you’re going to pay me this amount, I’m gonna fight someone that’s not the best in the world right now.’ So it totally depends on what the UFC wants to pay.”


Fight. Israel Adesanya excited to fight ‘juiced up monkeyPaulo Costa after facing a ‘statue’ in Yoel Romero.

$100M. Joe Rogan on massive Spotify deal: ‘It feels gross, especially right now when people can’t work’.

Favorite. Kamaru Usman opens as heavy favorite in hypothetical Conor McGregor matchup.


Fastest finishes in UFC history.

Free fight.

Pros pick this weekend’s fight.

Behind the scenes of UFC 249 with Justin Gaethje. There are 7 of these, so I won’t link them all.

This may not be exactly MMA, but it’s incredibly MMA adjacent. Ramzan Kadyrov is a huge MMA supporter.


Eurobash. The last Eurobash ever, with Ariel Helwani and Neil Seery.

Fights Gone By. Discussing Tyron Woodley’s return to the fight game.


Fight poster.

Jon Fitch succinctly destroying DC’s entire argument.

This is objectively true.

God loves a trier.

Future champ.

Is Jon hinting at something?

Short notice.

Poirier used to make featherweight.



Daniel Rodriguez (11-1) vs. Gabriel Green (9-2); UFC on ESPN 9, May 30.


This is a good interview with Sean O’Malley. In it he identifies why fighters having a manager in the UFC is, by and large, not necessary.

Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.



Will Sean O’Malley fight for a UFC title?

This poll is closed

  • 68%
    (530 votes)
  • 31%
    (239 votes)
769 votes total Vote Now

If you find something you’d like to see in the Morning Report, hit up @JedKMeshew on Twitter and let him know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram, add us on Snapchat at MMA-Fighting, and like us on Facebook.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Fighting Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Fighting