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Sean O’Malley hoping for future title clash with rival Marlon Vera: “He’s gotten really good, and nothing but respect for him”

UFC bantamweight contender Sean O’Malley has his eyes set on a rematch with Marlon Vera.

At UFC 252 in August 2020, the two 135-pound prospects faced off for the first time. Despite being a heavy favorite, ‘Sugar’ suffered an early leg injury, and wound up being TKO’d in the first round. The result was the first defeat of O’Malley’s career thus far.

Since that time, both men’s stock as a fighter has only gone up. For his part, ‘Chito’ has gone 4-1 in the octagon, defeating names such as Dominick Cruz and Frankie Edgar. Meanwhile, O’Malley is riding a five-fight undefeated streak, last defeating Petr Yan in October.

Currently, Sean O’Malley is expecting to face the winner of Aljamain Sterling vs. Henry Cejudo next. The bantamweight title clash currently doesn’t have a date but is expected early this year. In an ideal world, O’Malley would win the title and then face Vera next.

The bantamweight contender discussed the possible championship clash on the BroMalley podcast. There, O’Malley surprisingly praised Marlon Vera and admitted he’s surprised at just how much success his former opponent has had since their 2020 clash.

Sean O'Malley, UFC 269
Sean O’Malley following win at UFC 269

“What’s going to happen? I don’t want to think too far into that,” O’Malley said. “Cejudo: ‘Marlon Vera is just a journeyman, not good enough to beat Cory Sandhagen.’ You know what, that’s not true. I used to call ‘Chito’ a journeyman, but that was before he beat all those good guys. I didn’t think ‘Chito’ was going to get as good as he did, but he’s gotten good. He’s gotten really good, and nothing but respect for him. I hope he beats Cory, and Aljo beats Henry, Aljo moves up to 145, and me vs. ‘Chito,’ July, massive fight, for the belt.”

He continued, “Or, Aljo beats Henry, comes back, I sleep Aljo like [Marlon Moraes] did, and then I beat up ‘Chito. Either way, it doesn’t matter to me, as long as ‘Chito’ gets the job done. I like Cory, but me vs. ‘Chito’ is a massive fight. Me vs. Cory anybody is a good sized fight. The biggest fight in the division is me vs. anybody, but me vs. ‘Chito,’ the people have been waiting for it, and it’s getting closer.” (h/t MMAFighting)

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