Sean O’Malley had been hoping to make his first bantamweight title defense at the UFC 296 end-of-year PPV show in December, but now he’s settling for a headlining spot on an early 2024 show instead.
“I really, really did truly want to fight in December,” O’Malley said on the JRE MMA Show. “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 for who he will be fighting, that remains to be decided, and while the man he dethroned via 2nd round TKO to take the title, Aljamain Sterling, has been calling for an immediate rematch, ‘Suga’ has his eyes on avenging a previous loss to Marlon Vera instead.
“I’m really hoping [the UFC] f****** just say ‘let’s f****** do it,’” O’Malley said regarding a possible title defense against 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.”
Vera is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Pedro Munhoz, but had lost to Cory Sandhagen by split-decision earlier in the year, which means he’s only ranked No.6 in the division.
So it would be a bit of a stretch for that match-up to take place next instead of either heading into a rematch with Sterling, or facing current No.2 contender Merab Dvalishvili, who has more than earned the opportunity after winning nine fights in a row.