The pair fought at UFC 252 last August. At the time, O’Malley was unbeaten and riding high off two finishes following his return to action in March that year. In his previous outing, he’d recorded a Knockout of the Year contender against veteran Eddie Wineland. Vera, meanwhile, fell on the wrong side of a tight decision against Song Yadong in his prior appearance, a loss that snapped his five-fight winning streak.
Upsetting the odds inside the UFC Apex, Vera added the first blemish to O’Malley’s record with a first-round TKO. The stoppage came after the Ecuadorian’s leg kicks appeared to injure “Sugar,” seemingly disabling his foot after connecting with the perennial nerve.
Since then, both men have had success. After falling short of contention four months later with a defeat to former featherweight champion José Aldo, “Chito” re-established himself as a force to be reckoned with thanks to two impressive wins in 2021. Having avenged his loss to Davey Grant in June, Vera shot closer to the top 10 with a highlight-reel knockout of former 155-pound titleholder Frankie Edgar at UFC 268.
In the same period, O’Malley rebounded with two wins. A brutal knockout against former hot prospect Thomas Almeida was followed by a record-breaking striking performance against promotional newcomer Kris Moutinho at UFC 264 in July. He’ll have the chance to secure a third victory in 2021 this weekend when he faces Raulian Paiva.
O’Malley Wants His Revenge
Despite having a tough opponent in front of him, O’Malley has never been one to shy away from discussing his future plans and possible matchups in the UFC. During a recent appearance on Ariel Helwani’s The MMA Hour, “Sugar” was asked about his former foe Vera.
Addressing the ranked bantamweight’s latest appearance in the Octagon, O’Malley reluctantly admitted it was a good performance, but suggested they wouldn’t be having the conversation had the fight against Edgar lasted another minute.
“Did he? (look good in his last fight). I did watch, I just didn’t know if you were being serious or not. I thought it was a pretty decent performance. I mean, I thought a minute left he would’ve lost that fight and I don’t think we’d be saying the same thing, but he won, he got the job done, and that’s all that matters. So yeah, I guess you consider that a good performance.”
When asked if he believes he’ll run it back with “Chito” at some point in the future, O’Malley suggested a rematch with the Ecuadorian is “100%” going to happen at some point. That’s despite Vera’s previous claims that O’Malley already turned down the chance to face him again.
“Yes, 100%. I think it’s gonna happen 100%… there’s a time and place for that fight, and I think it’s gonna be a big fight. It’s gonna happen. I don’t know when, I don’t know if soon, sooner or later, but it’ll happen,” said O’Malley.
Despite being unranked, it’s hard to imagine that would come in the way of a possible rematch with Vera. However, “Chito” is setting his targets high for his next outing. He recently called out Aldo for a rematch following the Brazilian’s five-round triumph over Rob Font last weekend.
Should O’Malley emerge victorious at UFC 269 this Saturday, he’s perhaps only one more victory away from closing the gap on Vera in the rankings and making a second clash a real possibility.
How do you a think a rematch between Sean O’Malley and Marlon Vera would play out?