Sean O’Malley is in need of a new opponent after Louis Smolka was forced to withdraw from UFC 264 with an undisclosed injury, but there are already fighters eager to occupy Smolka’s vacant role.
Sean O’Malley was set to make his Octagon return against Louis Smolka at UFC 264 in less than two weeks (July 10) when the cold hand of bad timing dealt O’Malley a devastating blow that might knock him out of the pay-per-view entirely. If that turns out to be the case, it won’t be from a lack of willing takers for a card slot shared with “Suga” Sean.
The most notable name from a rankings perspective who has volunteered to step in and replace Smolka is #10-ranked bantamweight Merab Dvalishvili, who was quick to tag O’Malley in his tweet so that there could be no mistaking whether his offer was received.
“If @SugaSeanMMA needs an opponent I am ready and I will still fight Marlon in September!” Dvalishvili wrote.
The original report from MMA journalist Ariel Helwani states that the UFC is hoping to keep O’Malley on the card, so this is indeed an opportune time for fighters to try getting paired with the rising star. Other fighters have already done just that, such as Tim Elliott and Cody Stamann, but as of this writing, Dvalishvili is the highest-ranked fighter to throw his name in the ring. As he alluded to, however, Dvalishvili is already booked to fight Marlon Moraes in September.
This is not the first time the Georgian has challenged O’Malley. After defeating John Dodson at UFC 252 last August, it was O’Malley he called for next. Since then, the two would go on to face other opponents, with Dvalishvili defeating the aforementioned Cody Stamann and O’Malley besting Thomas Almeida at UFC 260 in March.
With Smolka out and the UFC on the hunt for a replacement, here is the updated UFC 264 card as presently constructed:
Co-Main Event: Gilbert Burns vs. Stephen Thompson
Irene Aldana vs. Yana Kuniskaya
Sean O’Malley vs. TBD
Carlos Condit vs. Max Griffin
Niko Price vs. Michel Pereira
Dricus Du Plessis vs. Trevin Giles
Ryan Hall vs. Ilia Topuria
Omari Akhmedov vs. Brad Tavares
Jennifer Maia vs. Jessica Eye
Jerome Rivera vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov
Alen Amedovski vs. Hu Yaozong
Keep it locked right here on MMANews.com for any updates on Sean O’Malley’s UFC 264 status and all other news surrounding the blockbuster event.