To hear Sean O’Malley tell it, he’s been a star in the making ever since he first stepped foot inside the Octagon. But, if fans had their doubts as to whether he had the skills to back up his confidence, he’s managed to prove most of his doubters wrong time and time again.
Following a second round TKO over Aljamain Sterling at UFC 292 back in August, the ‘Suga Show’ officially claimed the mantle of bantamweight world champion. Now the only question that seems to remain is ‘Who will Sean O’Malley fight next?’ And ‘When?’
Sean O’Malley says UFC wants him to headline a PPV
As of yet, nothing is set in stone, but O’Malley has been able to provide a few clues as to what his next move may be. On a recent episode of the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, O’Malley revealed that, while he was ready to fight in December, the UFC already had their headlining bouts set for that PPV. Instead, it sounds like his first fight will be sometime in early 2024.
“I really, really did truly want to fight in December,” O’Malley revealed (transcript via MMA Fighting). “Like when I called out Chito in December, but I talked to UFC and they kind of already had [plans]. They were trying to get Colby [Covington] and Leon [Edwards] together.
“I asked them — they want me to main event my own show, which I think it’s f****** dope. I’m down with that.”
As of yet, the UFC has not officially announced any PPV events for next year. The only thing on the calendar is a January 13th Fight Night card. However, if the schedule is anything like it has been in previous years, fans are likely to see UFC 297 later that month, and UFC 298 in mid-February, followed by UFC 299 in early March. The promotion is very likely gearing up for a massive showcase event, UFC 300, but O’Malley suggested he probably would be fighting before then. As for who he might face? There’s still just one opponent O’Malley has his eye on.
Bloody Elbow merch now available
Bloody Elbow is pleased to announce our partnership with Revgear. They have been a pioneer in the MMA gear industry and have grown into a formidable brand and true leader in the market. Revgear now have Bloody Elbow t-shirts, hoodies and hats so you can show your support for independent MMA journalism.
Sean O’Malley still hoping to fight Chito Vera
By all rights, Sean O’Malley’s first title defense seems like it should go to Merab Dvalishvili. The ‘Machine’ is on a 9-fight winning streak, including victories over two former champions and two former title contenders. Add to it a built in feud with O’Malley having just recently trounced Dvalishvili’s friend and teammate (plus the whole jacket stealing incident) and it seems like the narrative is right there waiting.
That doesn’t seem to be the fight anyone is leaning toward however. Aljamain Sterling has laid claim to an instant rematch (which O’Malley has no interest in), and in a move to back up his teammate, Dvalishvili has claimed he’d rather see Sterling get that chance rather than taking his own moment of glory. That whole situation seems to have Dana White just confused enough that #6 ranked Vera could slip into the top spot.
“I’m really hoping [the UFC] f****** just say ‘Let’s f****** do it,’” O’Malley admitted, when asked about a rematch with Marlon Vera.
“I’ve still got to go out there and prove it. I think once you become champ, it’s like are you champ? You’ve got to go defend the belt. You’ve got to defend the f****** belt, so I’m looking forward to that.”
To date, Vera has provided the lone blemish on O’Malley’s otherwise unbeaten record. The two men met back in 2020, at UFC 252. Whether it was low kicks or a leg injury, O’Malley found himself on unsteady footing early in the fight and was taken to the mat and TKO’d via ground-and-pound shortly afterward. The 28-year-old has regularly questioned the validity of the loss in the years since, even going so far as to claim he’s still undefeated.
Join the new Bloody Elbow
Our Substack is where we feature the work of writers like Zach Arnold, John Nash and Connor Reubusch. We’re fighting for the sport, the fighters and the fans. Please help us by subscribing today.
About the author