Sean O’Malley knows how he wants his immediate future to play out.
The new UFC bantamweight champion has had a target on his back practically since the moment he earned his promotional contract through Dana White’s Contender Series in 2017. Now, the elite of the elite at 135 pounds will be virtually unavoidable as the “Sugar Show” begins in full force.
O’Malley revealed after his title-winning second-round TKO of Aljamain Sterling at UFC 292 last month that he went through his training camp and the fight with an injured rib. The 28-year-old doesn’t see the injury stopping him from having his first title defense take place before 2024. O’Malley made it clear on the night of his coronation that he next hopes to rematch his lone successor Marlon “Chito” Vera, who also won on the night. The potential redemption brings with it enough incentive for O’Malley to try and get his wish.
“Pay-per-view points next fight is very exciting,” O’Malley said on Believe You Me. “That has a lot of reason why I want to fight ‘Chito’ too. It’s like you look at — if it’s just who’s the next guy in line by ranking, yeah, it’s Merab [Dvalishvili]. I’m the champ. I want this. Let’s see what happens.
“I had a meeting with Dana recently and he said he’s gonna announce something very big in a few weeks. I’ll leave it at that but I know what I want and I want the biggest fights. I want to make a lot of money and I want to do big pay-per-views. That’s that and that kind of carries on to what I want next.”
As mentioned by the champion, the streaking Dvalishvili sits atop the bantamweight contender list as the No. 2 ranked fighter in the official UFC rankings. “The Machine” currently rides a record-tying nine wins in a row, which was set by the now-former champion Sterling who is slotted one spot ahead of him.
Vera, 30, occupies the No. 6 spot, and his most recent unanimous decision win over Pedro Munhoz got him back in the win column after a one-sided defeat to Cory Sandhagen this past March. Ultimately, O’Malley doesn’t see the Ecuador native as his biggest name option. It’s just the history and timing of everything that has aligned about as perfectly as it could.
“Let’s make sure everyone knows, I’m not going after ‘Chito’ because he’s the biggest name,” O’Malley said. “He doesn’t carry much of a draw, no offense. He might be a bigger name than like Merab or Cory but Cory’s probably — if you want to look at how to not emulate your career or sell a fight or anything, follow Cory. He’ll do a great job with that.
“The only reason the ‘Chito’ fight is a big deal is just because of that controversial fight. That’s why that fight’s big. Chael [Sonnen] did a poll yesterday, it was 50,000 people, and 52 percent or whatever it was wanted ‘Chito.’ We gotta give the people what they want.”
In their first encounter, Vera managed to pick apart O’Malley with leg kicks early, leading to a first-round TKO via elbows and punches on the ground. Both men have had more ups than downs in the time since and for “Sugar,” he believes getting back his only career loss in 19 fights would be the exact springboard needed for his big crossover dream matchup.
“Ideally, I go out there, and I have to knock out ‘Chito,’” O’Malley said. “I can’t go win a decision, I can’t submit him, I can’t make it [boring]. I gotta go out there and knock out ‘Chito’ and then I’m gonna call out Gervonta [Davis]. I know that fight sounds silly to a lot of people but I go out there and knock out ‘Chito,’ I double in stardom. I am a massive star. But then again, Gervonta’s still not quite there. I think he’s in jail though so I don’t think anyone has told him that I want to fight him yet.
“If he wins a fight, and becomes a bigger star, that’s a fight I definitely want to partake in.”
Sad. Jason ‘Mayhem’ Miller arrested for allegedly choking man at West Hollywood club
Consequences. Natan Levy reveals how antisemitic Twitter troll ended up getting demolished in viral sparring session
UFC 293 Embedded 1.
UFC Connected: Aussies.
Powerhouse Playback: Blanchfield’s head kicks.
Cejudo plus Dern all access.
DAMN! They Were Good. MMA Fighting’s Jed Meshew, Jose Youngs, and Alex K. Lee bid farewell to The Korean Zombie, one of the most beloved and exciting fighters ever.
On To the Next One. MMA Fighting’s Mike Heck and Alex K. Lee discuss the matches to make after UFC Paris.
SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
UFC 293 will be Israel Adesanya's 11th PPV headliner in the UFC. That puts him at #7 on the all time list. He has carried the company over the last 5 years in terms of championship level activity. pic.twitter.com/RI097KmMF1— Andy Hickey MMA (@AndyHickeyMMA) September 4, 2023
— RIZIN FF English (@rizin_English) September 4, 2023
Kyohei Hagiwara's debut was one to remember; he scored the 2nd latest TKO win in RIZIN history!
Fun fact: he and RENA are the only 2 fighters to score stoppages in the first and last 30 seconds of a fight in RIZIN!
[ #RIZIN44 | 9/24 | @FiteTV ] pic.twitter.com/LUgtSxXcT7
The tone at the ending of this betting ad just caught me off guard and creased me up. pic.twitter.com/Ggv532N15u— Oscar Willis (@oscarswillis) September 4, 2023
Rated M? Interesting...
Justin Gaethje came in last in fantasy football last year so his punishment was he had to wear a dress to the draft pic.twitter.com/ElidRQ0uYd— Jason Williams (@jasoneg33) September 4, 2023
Dreams do come true.
Laura Sanko will finally make her commentary debut at UFC 293 pic.twitter.com/OSq3iR87tH— Bloody Elbow (@BloodyElbow) September 4, 2023
As one does.
Boxing class ✅— Diana Belbiță (@DianaBelbita) September 5, 2023
Going home to watch TEEN WOLF pic.twitter.com/700okQSNVT
News on the way.
KSW in UFC.
Here is a list of all the KSW champions in the history of the promotion and their records in the UFC. The overall winning percentage is 53.33%.— Al Zullino (@phre) September 4, 2023
A lot of them became KSW champs after the UFC, but if we only keep the ones ( ) that were KSW champs before, the W % boosts to 62%. pic.twitter.com/amm4yyhMqL
I think I saw someone tweet it after O’Malley won the title but UFC really is becoming the feeder league for boxing isn’t it? What a time.
Thanks for reading!
Would a Sean O’Malley vs. Marlon Vera rematch go to a decision?
This poll is closed