‘Suga’ Sean O’Malley Outlines His Path to Becoming UFC Champion

Sean O'Malley

Getty Sean O'Malley

“Suga” Sean O’Malley expects to be fighting for the UFC bantamweight title if he earns two more electric wins inside the Octagon.

Last week, ESPN’s Brett Okamoto reported that the UFC was finalizing a scrap between O’Malley and No. 10 Pedro Munhoz. And during the UFC 276 broadcast, the promotion officially announced the fight for UFC 276 on July 2 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Suga is ranked as the No. 13 bantamweight, as per the official UFC rankings. And although Munhoz is on a two-fight losing streak, the Brazilian is a staple of the division’s top 10 and is viewed as Suga’s biggest test to date.

If Suga gets past Munhoz, he’ll improve his professional mixed martial arts record to 16-1 and his win streak to four. O’Malley plans on earning the win via stoppage, something he’s down 12 times in his career, and after that, he wants a top-five opponent. If he devastates that fighter as well, then he expects to be competing for the 135-pound crown early next year.

“Two more finishes — early 2023, I’m fighting for the belt, whoever has it. I think after this fight, I go out there, I’ve got to finish Pedro — and I go out there, let’s say I finish Pedro, I get a top-5 guy, whoever that is,” O’Malley said during a recent episode of “The MMA Hour” via MMA Fighting.

O’Malley Wants to Fight Marlon Vera After Munhoz

If he beats “The Young Punisher” during UFC’s International Fight Week in July, O’Malley has a specific fighter in mind to take on next. And that’s the man who handed Suga his only loss, Marlon Vera.

“Depending on if ‘Chito’ gets a fight booked, I know that’s a fight that I want,” O’Malley said.

The two fought at UFC 252 in August 2020 and “Chito” left the cage as victor via first-round TKO. The fight was called off after Suga’s leg was compromised, which forced him to his back. Chito landed vicious ground and pound on O’Malley and the referee stepped in.

O’Malley has never accepted his defeat to Chito, telling Heavy last year that a nerve triggered in his leg during the opening frame. Suga also said that it wasn’t due to the kicks Vera landed.

Since the Suga fight, Chito’s gone 3-1, which includes three wins in a row over Rob Font, Frankie Edgar and Davey Grant. Chito’s April 30th victory over Font is the biggest of his career, and he’s now ranked No. 5 in the division.

So, O’Malley is game for the rematch, depending on what Vera chooses to do next.

“I don’t know if he’s going to get a fight booked,” O’Malley continued. “I’m assuming. He seemed like he wants to fight again. If he goes out there and wins, that could be another fight, maybe December time frame. We’ll see. I was kind of hoping Rob [Font] would win that fight, because I wanted to fight Rob, but he didn’t obviously. So yeah, I think Pedro, depending on if Chito goes out there and beats someone in the top five, he probably can get a title shot. If he doesn’t end up getting a fight, I would like finish Pedro and get that fight, and we’ll see.”

O’Malley Said Vera ‘Earned the Rematch’

Suga didn’t pursue a rematch with Chito after taking the loss. But after his recent streak, Suga believes Vera has “earned the rematch.”

“In the past I said he’s got to earn a rematch, and I think he’s done that,” O’Malley said of Vera. “He went out there, lost to Jose Aldo, went out there and lost to Frankie Edgar and then beat him with, you know, he basically lost to Frankie. He lost 13 minutes of a fight.

“No, he did, he finished Frankie. With two more minutes in that fight, he loses that. But I will, I’ll say it, he knocked out Frankie. Then he went out there and he looked really good against Rob, he looked impressive against Rob, he looked like he definitely improved. I don’t know how he didn’t finish him — he dropped him about 13 times. So he’s definitely improved and he’s earned that rematch. People hate when I say that, but it’s true — he earned it.”

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