O’Malley’s callout came as his search for a December opponent continues. He was offered a clash with Frankie Edgar at UFC 268 in November. He cited his coach Tim Welch’s availability and New York’s high taxation as his reason for turning the fight against the former UFC Lightweight Champion down.
It looked as if “Sugar” was set to meet Brian Kelleher at UFC 269 on December 11. O’Malley’s coach asked “Boom” if he was free on that date during an exchange on Twitter. Kelleher even appeared to publicly confirm that the 26-year-old had accepted the fight.
Despite that, O’Malley turned his attention to former champ and #11-ranked bantamweight Cruz. Reiterating his desire to fight on the UFC 269 card, which is expected to be headlined by a lightweight title clash between Charles Oliveira and Dustin Poirier, the surging 135-pound star proposed a clash with “The Dominator.”
Responding on Twitter, not only did Cruz reject O’Malley, but he also announced that he already has a date and an opponent set for his next appearance.
“I have a date with someone that is ranked up ahead of me stud. Same thing you’re looking for. So I get it. May the force be with you in figuring that one out for yourself.”
Given that his opponent is ranked above him, we can narrow down the options. Petr Yan and Cory Sandhagen are set to fight for the interim title at UFC 267, TJ Dillashaw is still recovering from knee surgery, Rob Font and José Aldo are expected to clash at the December 4 Fight Night, Cody Garbrandt will be debuting at flyweight against Kai Kara-France before the end of the year, and Frankie Edgar will meet Marlon “Chito” Vera at UFC 268 in November.
That leaves Merab Dvalishvili, Marlon Moraes, and Pedro Munhoz. Given the Georgian’s win at UFC 266 last weekend, it seems unlikely he’d accept a fight against a bantamweight outside of the top-10, especially so soon after his victory. The same goes for “Magic” Moraes. While his losing skid makes a clash with Cruz logical, there’s little chance he’s already signed on for another fight just days out from another disappointing setback.
Munhoz vs. Cruz makes sense. Given the length of time since the Brazilian’s defeat to Aldo at UFC 265, he’s pretty much the only man inside the top-10 without an opponent and who’s had a decent break since his last fight.
Cruz, a two-time 135-pound UFC champ, boasts wins over the likes of Dillashaw, Urijah Faber, Demetrious Johnson, and Joseph Benavidez. After losing his title to Garbrandt in 2016, “The Dominator,” who’s had a torrid run of injuries in the promotion, was on the sidelines for nearly four years.
Having made an unsuccessful comeback against Henry Cejudo in 2020, Cruz returned to the win column for the first time since UFC 199 against Casey Kenney earlier this year. He’ll be looking to return to the form that once brought him a 13-fight win streak when he’s next in action.
Who would you like to see Dominick Cruz and Sean O’Malley face in their next fights?