Cory Sandhagen reacts after Sean O’Malley states that he wants his first UFC title defence to come against Marlon Vera

By Susan Cox - August 18, 2023

Cory Sandhagen is reacting after Sean O’Malley stated that he wants his first title defense to come against Marlon Vera.

Sean O'Malley and Cory Sandhagen

It will be Sean O’Malley (16-1 MMA) vs. Aljamain Sterling (23-3 MMA) in a bantamweight title fight at UFC 292 tomorrow night, Saturday, August 19th at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.

‘Sugar’ is already looking past his upcoming fight with Sterling, believing that when he becomes champion he wants his first title defence to be against Marlon Vera (20-8 MMA). It was Vera who handed O’Malley his only loss, via way of TKO, back in August of 2020 at UFC 252.

‘Chito’ has his own battle tomorrow night, as he’ll be fighting Pedro Munhoz (20-7 MMA) in a bantamweight bout.

Speaking with reporters during a media scrum, Sandhagen is questioning O’Malley’s comments concerning his first title defense:

“That’s some weak sauce, man. You want to fight the guy that other people are beating? That kind of bothers me about the way O’Malley thinks a little bit.”

Continuing Sandhagen said:

“It’s not even just Sean O’Malley. It’s the way that sometimes the sport is set up where it’s like take the easiest fight for the least amount of money. That’s going to ruin some stuff. Don’t you want to when you win the belt to say that you’re the actual best because you fought the best guys? That’s my approach.”

Sandhagen (17-4 MMA) is currently sidelined with an elbow injury and doesn’t see himself back in the Octagon until the 1st quarter of 2024.  ‘Sandman’ most recently defeated Rob Font (20-7 MMA) by unanimous decision earlier this month.

Speaking of what’s next for himself, Sandhagen continued (h/t MMAJunkie):

“If this (right arm) wasn’t hurt, I would be expecting to fight for a title at the end of the year against whoever it would be against, whether Sterling wins and leaves (the division for featherweight) or whether Sean O’Malley wins and it’s against him. That would be what I would expect.

Concluding the 31-year-old said:

“Now I’m probably like eight months away from getting back into the cage. I’m six months from being like 100 percent healthy and then eight months from being able to fight. So I’m not going to think too far into it. I think there’s going to be this one this weekend, one more and maybe December, January and then maybe me. But I don’t know – we’ll see.”

Do you agree with Cory Sandhagen that Sean O’Malley has his sights set too low, should he beat Aljamain Sterling and have his first title defense against Marlon Vera?

Bottom line – O’Malley has to get past ‘Funk Master’ first.

Share your thoughts in the comment section PENN Nation!