Sean O’Malley explains why he wants Ilia Topuria over Merab Dvalishvili next: “He’s very beatable”

By Josh Evanoff - February 19, 2024

UFC bantamweight Sean O’Malley wants Ilia Topuria over Merab Dvalishvili for an interesting reason.

Sean O'Malley

‘Sugar’ is currently scheduled to return to the octagon next month in the main event of UFC 299. For Sean O’Malley, the title defense will be the first of his bantamweight reign, previously capturing the championship with a knockout win over Aljamain Sterling. First up for the new champion is a rematch with Marlon Vera.

‘Chito’ famously handed Sean O’Malley his first career loss by stoppage in the summer of 2020. If the bantamweight champion can get through Vera, he has his eyes on newly crowned featherweight titleholder Ilia Topuria. ‘El Matador’ won the title over the weekend at UFC 298, scoring a second-round knockout win over Alexander Volkanovski.

UFC 298 on Saturday night also saw the return of one Merab Dvalishvili. On the main card, ‘The Machine’ dominated Henry Cejudo, handing ‘Triple C’ a decision loss and retiring him in the process. Following the win, Dana White revealed that Dvalisvhli was likely next for O’Malley.

However, if Sean O’Malley gets his way, he will face Ilia Topuria over Merab Dvalishvili next. Speaking on The MMA Hour alongside Ariel Helwani, the champion was asked about what was next. There, he showed interest in facing the scarier fighter in the form of Topuria. In his eyes, that’s the bigger fight as well.


Sean O'Malley

Image via: @sugasean on Instagram

Sean O’Malley calls to face Ilia Topuria over Merab Dvalishvili after UFC 298

“Dana said that huh? I didn’t hear that.” Sean O’Malley responded on The MMA Hour when told that Dana White confirmed Merab Dvalishvili as the next bantamweight title challenger at UFC 298. “Yeah, there’s Merab, there’s Cory [Sandhagen], and there’s Ilia. Those three are potential for next. Again, I’m laser-focused and dialed in for March 9th. Whatever happens after that, I’m very confident in.”

He continued, “Merab is very beatable. Henry about knocked him out, Marlon Moraes about knocked him out, [but] Merab has a crazy good gas tank and good wrestling. He’s a dangerous opponent. But when I think of a scary opponent, I think of Ilia. Ilia gives me that, he can put your f*cking lights out, that’s a scary opponent.”

“Merab is a dangerous opponent. He’s got that cardio and he can eventually put your lights out after you gas out.” Sean O’Malley concluded. “He didn’t finish Henry. So, we’ll see. I like big, big fights.”

What do you make of these comments? Who do you want to see UFC bantamweight champion Sean O’Malley fight next? Ilia Topuria or Merab Dvalishvili?

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Ilia Topuria Merab Dvalishvili Sean O'Malley UFC