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Morning Report: Sean O’Malley ‘literally just grappling’ in preparation for ‘guaranteed’ title shot

MMA-UFC-UAE-MALLEY-YAN Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images

Sean O’Malley is aware of the tough stylistic matchup that awaits him in the future.

UFC 280 marked the biggest moment in “Suga’s” MMA career thus far, defeating former bantamweight champion Petr Yan via a hard-fought split decision. Once known as the “unranked champion,” O’Malley catapulted himself from the No. 10 spot in the official UFC rankings to the top contender. With that, he’s now been told by UFC President Dana White that his next fight will be his first opportunity at promotional gold. O’Malley seemingly won’t be a part of the very next 135-pound championship bout, however.

The current champion Aljamain Sterling and returning ex-champion Henry Cejudo have both come out to claim that they’re fighting each other next. Therefore, leaving O’Malley on the outside honing his skills for a wrestling-heavy matchup no matter who awaits him as champion.

“I’m just training, I’m getting better,” O’Malley said on Believe You Me. “I know I need to improve in aspects of my grappling whether I fight ‘Aljo’ or Henry. They’re both very heavy grapplers, so I’m fine with sitting out. I’m literally just grappling. That’s all I’m really doing nowadays. I’m fine waiting a couple months, just keep getting better.”

The Yan victory came this past October in Abu Dhabi where O’Malley fought for the second time in 2022. A summertime target date is currently locked in mind for the Contender Series alum.

Although he never likes to wait around too long, O’Malley feels like it’s the wise choice at this juncture.

“I’m in a tricky position,” O’Malley said. “I always knew I’d be in this position where you’re at the top of the division. It doesn’t really make sense to fight. I’m guaranteed a title shot. Obviously, ‘Aljo’ and Henry still have to be announced. I’m kind of in that position where do I be smart — like I’ve done my entire career — and just wait for those two dorks to fight or do I risk it and go fight someone else? Which wouldn’t be the intelligent thing to do, but it’s like you only get so many years to fight. I don’t really feel like sitting around too much.

“I’m leaning towards waiting around for ‘Aljo’ and Henry to fight and just wait for that.”

On paper, either matchup looks to be a stiff one for the talented striker in O’Malley. Cejudo’s Olympic-caliber wrestling abilities accompanied by an evolving overall game carried him to dual-division champion status before retiring in May 2020.

Sterling is no slouch on the ground either, primarily winning his fights by imposing his will en route to any variation of victory achievable. Despite “Triple C’s” impressive accolades in and out of MMA, O’Malley believes the more recently active “Funk Master” will be too much to overcome.

“I think ‘Aljo’ probably submits Henry,” O’Malley said. “Who knows how hard Henry’s been training. These last few years he had a baby, he clearly wasn’t in good shape. Every time you saw him at the fights he looked fat and drunk so I don’t know, I think ‘Aljo’ probably chokes him.”


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Bummer. Robert Whittaker vs. Paulo Costa scrapped from UFC 284 card in Australia

Update. BKFC: Paige VanZant ‘welcome’ to compete again, but she’s doing ‘very, very well’ outside of fighting


VIDEO STEW

The MMA Hour.

Rousey vs. Tate 2 flashback.

Bellator featherweight title history.

RIZIN Confessions 112.

Merab in Jamaica.


SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE

Oh yes.

Wonderful.

Damn.

Hmm...

Twinning.

Biggie deer.

Mullet.

Zion.

Ref had beef.


FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Ovince St. Preux (26-16) vs. Philipe Lins (15-5); UFC Vegas 69, Feb. 18


FINAL THOUGHTS

At least O’Malley knows what he needs to do. Not sure it will make much of a difference though.

Thanks for reading!


POLL POSITION

Last Week’s Results:

Friday: 71% of 588 total votes answered “Jared Cannonier” when asked, “Who wins tomorrow?” Cannonier defeated Sean Strickland via split decision in the UFC Vegas 66 main event.

Thursday: 52% of 491 total votes answered “Drew Dober” when asked, “Who wins this weekend?” Dober defeated Bobby Green via second-round knockout (punch) at 2:45.

Wednesday: 822 total votes answered “Paddy Pimblett’s unanimous decision over Jared Gordon” when asked, “Which was a worse decision?” between that and Sean O’Malley’s split decision over Petr Yan.

Tuesday: 64% of 695 total votes answered “Yes” when asked, “Will Islam Makhachev surpass the UFC lightweight title defense record (3)?

Monday: 78% of 682 total votes answered “Yes” when asked, “Was Paddy Pimblett’s win a robbery?

Today’s exit poll:

Poll

Who is a worse matchup for Sean O’Malley?

This poll is closed

  • 26%
    Aljamain Sterling
    (194 votes)
  • 33%
    Henry Cejudo
    (244 votes)
  • 39%
    Equally as difficult
    (287 votes)
725 votes total Vote Now

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

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