Talk of O’Malley’s future opponents has intensified following his latest victory inside the Octagon. Having rebounded from his first loss in MMA with stoppage victories over once highly-touted Brazilian Thomas Almeida and tough debutant Kris Moutinho earlier this year, “Sugar” looked to make it three for three in 2021 when he opened the UFC 269 main card opposite Raulian Paiva.
Despite undoubtedly facing a step-up in competition and a formerly-ranked bantamweight, O’Malley looked at his best and finished the Brazilian with a vicious combination shortly before the end of the first round.
O’Malley Targets March/April Return
Prior to his seventh consecutive pay-per-view outing, O’Malley had singled out fellow surging bantamweight striker Adrian Yanez as a potential future opponent. When discussing his route to the title, “Sugar” even listed the 28-year-old as his next step after knocking out Paiva.
Despite that, O’Malley appears open to facing whoever the UFC puts in front of him. During the UFC 269 post-fight press conference, O’Malley was asked whether he still had Yanez on his radar, and while reiterating his targeted March return, the Montana native said he has no one in particular in mind for his next fight.
“I fought three times last year, three times this year. I feel like every day, I just have a fight coming up. So I’m just gonna enjoy this and try to not book a fight and just enjoy being with my family and my little princess. And I’m sure I’ll fight in March, April. Who will it be? I don’t know. Doesn’t really matter. As long as the Suga Show is fighting, I don’t really think people care too much who I’m fighting.”
While a fight with Yanez would certainly provide fireworks and see one man establish themselves as perhaps bantamweight’s hottest prospect, the UFC may choose to build both men up separately. All that said, Yanez does still remain an option for O’Malley as well, as he reiterated on Thursday.
Given their previous exchanges, many have suggested O’Malley fight Cody Garbrandt next, especially after the former champ’s attempts to succeed as a flyweight took a hit this past weekend. “Sugar” has also made his desire to exact revenge on Marlon Vera known, so perhaps “Chito” could be convinced to fight down the rankings in a PPV slot against O’Malley.
Nevertheless, whoever O’Malley is matched up with next year should provide for an exciting contest and aid the 27-year-old’s rise up the 135-pound ladder.
Whom would you like to see Sean O’Malley face next?