UFC bantamweight Sean O’Malley wants to rematch Marlon Vera before he fights for the 135-pound title.
‘Suga’ predicts a title shot by ‘early 2023’ but, before that, the No. 13-ranked bantamweight must first get past Pedro Munhoz in July, and then, if everything goes according to plan, he will ‘Chito’ Vera in December.
“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. Depending on if ‘Chito’ gets a fight booked, I know that’s a fight that I want,” O’Malley said Monday on The MMA Hour (h/t MMA Fighting).
“I don’t know if he’s going to get a fight booked. 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 feels Vera has finally ‘earned’ his rematch after surging to No. 5 in the official UFC bantamweight rankings following his Fight of the Night victory over Rob Font last month at UFC on ESPN 35.
Vera previously beat O’Malley via first-round TKO at UFC 252 where he handed O’Malley the first — and only — loss of his professional career.
“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.”
O’Malley will return to the Octagon to take on Munhoz at the upcoming UFC 276 PPV on July 2 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.