O’Malley closed out a perfect 2021 with his third finish in as many pay-per-view fights on the year. The 27-year-old’s impressive year began with a rebound win against once highly-touted Brazilian Thomas Almeida at UFC 260, which followed his first loss in MMA against Marlon Vera in 2020.
Setting himself back on a winning streak, O’Malley succeeded his Almeida triumph with a record-breaking striking performance against promotional newcomer Kris Moutinho at UFC 264. That TKO victory saw O’Malley matched up with the formerly-ranked Raulian Paiva at UFC 269.
Inside the opening round, “Sugar” hurt his Brazilian foe before unleashing a brutal combination against the cage. With his trio of successes in 2021, O’Malley now enters 2022 as the No.13-ranked bantamweight contender.
O’Malley Boasts Lofty Aspirations
In the aftermath of his victory in the UFC 269 main card opener, O’Malley has kept his cards close to his chest in regards to who he’d like to face next. He followed the same attitude during a recent appearance on My Mom’s Basement with Robbie Fox.
The Montana native said he hopes to return to the Octagon in April or May at the latest, but the ‘who’ aspect of that scenario isn’t on his mind right now.
“As far as who’s next, I don’t know, dude. I’m excited right now, to not have a date or an opponent in mind… Right now, I’m not even gonna talk to the UFC about who’s next or what’s next… I’m gonna fight who they offer me, just like they have been… I’d say latest April, maybe May (for my next fight). As far as who, I don’t really care right now. Whoever it is, everyone’s gonna watch.”
Despite not divulging into talk of his immediate future, O’Malley did line up some legends he’s expecting to face within the next couple of years. They include arguably the featherweight GOAT, two former bantamweight champions, and the current interim 135-pound titleholder.
“Aldo would be a trip dude. That would be wild. I really think my path’s gonna cross with [José] Aldo, Dominick Cruz, Petr Yan, TJ Dillashaw; like, all these legends, I’m gonna fight one day. It just depends on, you know, they don’t have a ton more years left. I still got a long time left, so if I do wanna fight those guys, it’s gonna have to be within the next couple years. So yeah, I can see all those big matchups happening.”
To face those names, O’Malley will have to make a surge for the top 10 in his next outing. Whoever it’s against, “Sugar” can be sure people will watch, especially given the interest his clashes with unranked names had in 2021.
Which top-10 bantamweights would you like to see Sean O’Malley face in the near future?