Sean O’Malley Discusses Potential Opponents For First Title Defense

Newly crowned bantamweight champion Sean O’Malley called out Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera in his post-fight interview after defeating Aljamain Sterling last weekend, but in a new interview he talks about several other potential challengers, including a current champion, who he could go up against next.

“I have a lot of options,” O’Malley said on The Jim Rome Show. “I know Chito is acting like he earned a title shot, which is absolutely untrue. If he gets a title shot it’s because I picked him; I choose him. And I don’t like the way that he’s been handling it so I might skip over him.

“Henry Cejudo’s not really an option coming off a loss. I’d like to just mention how short he is and that I would love to help him with his wrestling defense. Aljo went 0 and 2 against me and I think Aljo took Henry down four times. I would always offer that for whenever Henry wants to come learn some stuff, some wrestling from me. He’s not really an option but I like to bring up his name because I know he gets fired up.

“Pantoja, Alexandre Pantoja, the 125-pound champion, we have history. He has been calling me out. Merab’s [Dvalishvil] there. Cory’s [Sandhagen] there. I have a lot of options.”

O’Malley is open to the idea of fighting at the end of the year or early in 2024, but ultimately he admits it’ll be down to the UFC to decide a date and an opponent.

“I like to think I have more power but in reality the UFC is going to do what they want. The UFC’s going to book who they want when they want. You saw that with Aljo three and a half months before that. He said you’re fighting “Suga” in Boston. Dana’s the man. Dana [White] runs the show. Dan and Hunter [Campbell], they run the show, so I’ll be where they need me to be when they need me to be there. And I’ll do what I do.”

Ross launched MMA Insight (previously in 2009 as a way to channel his passion for the sport of mixed martial arts. He's since penned countless news stories and live fight reports along with dozens of feature articles as the lead writer for the site, reaching millions of fans in the process.