Sean O’Malley reminded everyone just how good he is on Saturday night.
On the main card of UFC 260, O’Malley made his return to the Octagon coming off his first career loss, although he still thinks he is undefeated. The big question entering the scrap was how would O’Malley’s legs fare? The rising star took some leg kicks early on. But, he put on a striking clinic en route to a third-round TKO win over Thomas Almeida, which Dana White was pleased with.
“He did it twice tonight, he looked good coming back in off of the ‘Chito’ Vera fight. O’Malley came in tonight against a real tough kid, durable, with serious punching power and he put on a masterpiece tonight,” White said of O’Malley after UFC 260. “He picked him apart, stayed on the outside and did whatever he wanted to do. He hurt him [in the first round], thought he finished him and then finished him again in the third round. You really couldn’t have put on a better performance than he did tonight.”
Although O’Malley is known for calling his shot, “Suga” didn’t call anyone out after his win. He said he wanted at least one more this year, but after the dominant win, O’Malley has a ton of options for his next fight.
The first option is someone that reportedly called out O’Malley after his win, and that is Dominick Cruz. The former bantamweight champion texted Chael Sonnen on the UFC post-fight show to say he wants O’Malley next.
On paper, this fight certainly makes sense. Cruz is still aways away from a title shot. In his last fight against Casey Kenney, Cruz proved he is open to fighting the young up-and-comers. If Cruz can beat O’Malley, it would likely earn him a top-five guy. For O’Malley, he gets a chance to beat a former champion and get some revenge for his teammate in Kenney.
A fight between Cruz and O’Malley can easily headline a Fight Night card and would be must-see TV. It’s also the most logical option if the UFC wants to give O’Malley a big name.
Marlon Moraes is on a losing skid and will have to fight down. Sean O’Malley, meanwhile, is looking to skyrocket up the bantamweight ranks.
Moraes is coming off back-to-back KO losses to Cory Sandhagen and Rob Font. Although those are two of the top-five bantamweights, the UFC could give O’Malley an aggressive push to see if he can hang in the top-10 at bantamweight.
The Brazilian in Moraes has hard leg kicks and KO power, which could cause O’Malley problems. “Suga” has good footwork and KO power also, so this would make for an exciting fight for as long as it lasts.
Raphael Assuncao is another top-10 opponent and a winnable fight for Sean O’Malley.
Assuncao is a very intriguing matchup because he is a good grappler. Yet, he is on a three-fight losing streak and needs a step down in competition. However, he has only lost to elite competition since 2011 as he has only lost to TJ Dillashaw, Marlon Moraes, Cory Sandhagen, and Cody Garbrandt. He has also beaten the likes of Aljamain Sterling, Rob Font, and Moraes among others.
The Brazilian has been knocked out before, but if he can survive the early onslaught and implement his grappling, he could pose some problems for O’Malley.
Regardless of opponent, it’s likely Sean O’Malley will get a ranked fighter as the UFC tries to push him up the bantamweight ranks.
Who do you think should be next for Sean O’Malley?