“I knocked out Merab on August 19, the same night I knocked out [Aljamain Sterling],” O’Malley said this past week on The MMA Hour. “They’re the same. They hold hands. They’re the same person. I knocked them both out August 19, so we’ll see what happens.
“At the end of the day, I’ll out there and knock out whoever they put in front of me.”
O’Malley, 28, shook up the MMA world on Aug. 19 when he captured the UFC bantamweight strap with a stunning second-round knockout of Aljamain Sterling at UFC 292. The win catapulted O’Malley into instant UFC stardom, and afterward he laid out his plans for his first title defense. “Sugar” called to rematch Marlon “Chito” Vera, the veteran bantamweight contender who memorably defeated him via first-round knockout in 2020 and climbed back into the win column at UFC 292 with a decision victory over Pedro Munhoz.
Dvalishvili is a longtime friend and teammate of Sterling, as well as one of the top-ranked bantamweights in the world. The Georgian contender has won nine consecutive UFC bouts, however his reluctance to fight Sterling hampered his title chances prior to UFC 292.
Several weeks later, O’Malley is sticking to his original plan — though he sees plenty of other intriguing names at 135 pounds that pique his interest as well.
“I called out the Chito fight before the fight even happened,” O’Malley said. “Before me vs. Aljo, before Pedro vs. Chito, I said, ‘Hey, Chito goes out there and wins, I go out there and win, I’m fighting Chito for my first title defense,’ and that’s what happened. That’s what’s going to happen next in my eyes, that’s what I want.
“I’m sure the UFC’s down with that,” O’Malley later added. “Like I said, they’re in the fight business. Me vs. Chito is the biggest fight in the bantamweight division to make. There’s not even one that’s really close. Me versus anyone is going to be a big fight because I’m a pretty big name. But me vs. Chito is the biggest fight to make, me vs. Cory [Sandhagen] is out there. Me vs. Merab — Merab is literally just so f****** boring. Just, it’s hard to make that business-wise, but yeah, you could make that fight eventually.
“Me vs. Umar [Nurmagomedov] is a fight that I would like if he could just even get to a fight and win a couple. That’s an interesting fight just because of his last name. But yeah, there’s a bunch of big fights out there for me.”
One other name piquing O’Malley’s interest is a matchup that may not happen next, but is still something the new champ views as a long-term goal: A blockbuster boxing bout against three-division boxing champion Gervonta Davis.
O’Malley sees the undefeated Davis as a future superstar, and he believes the two could join forces down the line to stage their own version of the Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor mega-fight, which remains the second-highest grossing pay-per-view of all-time.
“We’re both undefeated boxers. It just makes sense,” O’Malley said. “That’s what you do when you’re both undefeated boxers. You go out there and you see who’s the best. Before that fight, I was calling out Ryan Garcia and Gervonta Davis, before they fought.
“Gervonta beat Ryan, and it’s just a fight that I’d like in the future. I’m not calling for it next. I’m not saying this needs to happen next. I need to go out there and knock out my next guy, he needs to go out there and continue to build himself, and then we can have a Conor-Floyd situation. I’m not as big as Conor right now, he’s not as big as Floyd, so I’m just planting the seed, letting it grow. I would love that fight. T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, the ‘Sugar’ show versus Gervonta. I just think it could definitely happen.”
O’Malley said he already even broached the topic of boxing Davis with UFC executive Hunter Campbell. The response he received encouraged him to continue pursuing the idea.
“[Campbell] said, ‘Hey, listen, if it’s a big enough fight, the UFC is going to want to do it,’ because they want to make money,” O’Malley said. “Conor vs. Floyd was big enough that they did it. So he said if it’s a big enough fight. He did say Gervonta is obviously, not right now, he’s not not big enough, he’s not a superstar, he’s not at that level yet. But in a couple of years, maybe he will be. I know I will be.
“And I know there’s a lot of people hating on it, but I would challenge those guys that if it happened to not watch it. You guys have to sit there and watch f****** some boring — you have to watch a Chito replay of Chito vs. Pedro. That’s what you guys have to do. You have to watch that while me and Gervonta fight.”