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Morning Report: Sean O’Malley believes he’s ‘a couple fights’ from the title

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139_Sean_O_Malley.0.jpgEsther Lin, MMA Fighting

Earlier this week, Henry Cejudo made his retirement official, vacating the UFC bantamweight title. Cejudo’s departure leaves the 135 pound division in a state of uncertainty, with the UFC having thrown out a few options, including a possible four-man tournament to crown a new champion. But though the short-term future for the division may be up in the air, rising contender Sean O’Malley believes the long-term future of the division will arrive soon.

Speaking with The Luke Thomas Show yesterday, O’Malley discussed the current state of the bantamweight division, and argued that, despite being unranked, he’s only a few fights away from the title.

“There’s four people they talk about for the bantamweight title,” O’Malley said. “No one is really standing out. No one is really like, ‘This is who we want to be our champ.’ I win a couple more fights, I’m that guy. I’m the guy that people are gonna want to see, the bantamweight champ. And I’m gonna go out there and perform like I did last time, against Eddie (Wineland), and whoever I fight next, I’m gonna go out there and do the same thing.

“I’m only a couple fights away from the title, because if you look at the rankings, they don’t really matter. You had Jose Aldo ranked, what, number six in the bantamweight division? He’s never even won. You had Dominick Cruz coming off a loss fight (for the belt). The rankings don’t matter. I think those top four dudes right now, (Aljamain) Sterling, (Petr) Yan, Cory (Sandhagen), and . . . Marlon (Moraes), those top four dudes are killers. They’re high level blackbelts in MMA. But no one is talking about them. No one is like, ‘That’s the dude.’ No one is that interested. I’m that guy. I’m the guy that’s going to come, knock these dudes out, get my title shot, and I’m gonna be champ. It’s gonna be people want to see me there, and it’s going to be exciting.”

O’Malley burst into the UFC with a sensational knockout on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2017. White saw star potential in the MMA Lab disciple and quickly brought him to the UFC where he has thrived inside the cage. Outside the cage though, O’Malley was set back by a prolonged ordeal with USADA that saw him lose two years of his career. He finally returned in March of this year with his best performance to date, a head kick KO of Jose Albert Quinonez at UFC 248, and O’Malley is clearly making up for lost time, with a fight scheduled against Eddie Wineland set to take place next month at UFC 250. Wineland is a longtime veteran of the sport and O’Malley believes this fight is the springboard to ranked opponents, and ultimately, a UFC title shot.

“I think it’s a perfect next step up, next match,” O’Malley said. “Beating him, he’s not one of the top top guys right now but he’s a vet, he’s got a weird style, and I think beating him definitely shows I’m as good as I say I am. But it’s not like I’m beating someone in the top 10 right now, so I think I go out there, beat him, it shows that the hype is real, but I’ve still got a lot to prove.”

But given his budding star power, if O’Malley can impress against Wineland, he could be fast-tracked to the top of the division, and with plenty of time left in 2020, O’Malley says he could even be fighting for the title as early as next year, assuming the UFC wants to pay.

“Yeah, probably (I’ll fight for the belt next year). I’m honestly not in a hurry,” O’Malley said. “It depends how much the UFC, if they’re gonna pay me what they pay me now I’ll be like, ‘Yeah, I fight other guys.’ If you want to pay me more money to fight better guys, I’ll fight the better guys. But I’m not going to fight the better guys right now with the money you’re paying me right now. It just doesn’t make sense from a business perspective. From a fighter’s mind, I want to obviously fight the best guys in the world. I want to be champ. But in a business mindset, it’s like, ‘Okay, you’re going to pay me this amount, I’m gonna fight someone that’s not the best in the world right now.’ So it totally depends on what the UFC wants to pay.”


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Favorite. Kamaru Usman opens as heavy favorite in hypothetical Conor McGregor matchup.


VIDEO STEW

Fastest finishes in UFC history.

Free fight.

Pros pick this weekend’s fight.

Behind the scenes of UFC 249 with Justin Gaethje. There are 7 of these, so I won’t link them all.

This may not be exactly MMA, but it’s incredibly MMA adjacent. Ramzan Kadyrov is a huge MMA supporter.


LISTEN UP

Eurobash. The last Eurobash ever, with Ariel Helwani and Neil Seery.

Fights Gone By. Discussing Tyron Woodley’s return to the fight game.


SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE

Fight poster.

Welcome to FIGHT WEEK!

@TWooodley
@GilbertDurinho

Saturday on @ESPN & ESPN+ pic.twitter.com/JdzxTWpaXP

— UFC (@ufc) May 25, 2020

Jon Fitch succinctly destroying DC’s entire argument.

Thinking that 3 million for the Jones fight was a lot of money is dumb.

You should have made 15 guaranteed before PPV and sponsors.

— Jon Fitch (@jonfitchdotnet) May 26, 2020

Yes Jon I’d love to make 15 million dollars. https://t.co/FY2KANra7Y

— Daniel Cormier (@dc_mma) May 26, 2020

This is objectively true.

You can argue all day about who's the GOAT. But the greatest PRIZE fighter in MMA history is measurable and undisputed. Its really not even close. pic.twitter.com/p3liCD7vv2

— Coach Kavanagh (@John_Kavanagh) May 27, 2020

God loves a trier.

.@USMAN84kg fuck em they dont want it. They making every excuse in the book. I'll fight you. fight island or in the USA lets go.

— Leon 'Rocky' Edwards (@Leon_edwardsmma) May 27, 2020

Future champ.

Waiting for the news ⏳

— Petr “No Mercy” Yan (@PetrYanUFC) May 27, 2020

Is Jon hinting at something?

Trying to get comfortable repping out those heavy weights pic.twitter.com/A09J0F9K70

— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) May 26, 2020

Short notice.

If anything happen this week I can step in @ufc , I’ll fight at 85 and 70 in the same night. #Lmk

— Platinum Mike Perry (@PlatinumPerry) May 26, 2020

Poirier used to make featherweight.

Great work today!! @SPonzinibbioMMA pic.twitter.com/XkvXcOWplM

— The Diamond (@DustinPoirier) May 26, 2020

Incredible.


FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Daniel Rodriguez (11-1) vs. Gabriel Green (9-2); UFC on ESPN 9, May 30.


FINAL THOUGHTS

This is a good interview with Sean O’Malley. In it he identifies why fighters having a manager in the UFC is, by and large, not necessary.

Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.


EXIT POLL


If you find something you’d like to see in the Morning Report, hit up @JedKMeshew on Twitter and let him know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram, add us on Snapchat at MMA-Fighting, and like us on Facebook.

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