Sean O’Malley has come around to the idea of rematching Marlon “Chito” Vera.
Almost three years after their 2020 encounter, O’Malley (16-1, 1 no contest) and Vera (20-7-1) are two of the top title contenders in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight division. While the weight class continues to sort itself out around the No. 1-ranked O’Malley, he’s watching closely with hopes of how things shake out.
Current champion, Aljamain Sterling, is expected to defend his title opposite former titlist, Henry Cejudo, within the coming months despite no official announcement as of yet. For Vera, the Ecuador native booked a bout with Cory Sandhagen on Feb. 18, 2023.
“I’m excited. I’m going to go,” O’Malley said on his BroMalley podcast (h/t MMA Fighting) when discussing Vera versus Sandhagen. “I’m going to sit front row, and observe and watch these two warriors compete... It is a sweet fight. It is at APEX but I’m not fighting so I don’t give a f—k.”
According to O’Malley, he’s been promised by UFC President, Dana White, that his next appearance will be in his first title opportunity. The only problem is that “Suga” has no idea when that could take place.
O’Malley is hopeful he’ll be back in action around July for a crack at possibly a Sterling-Cejudo winner. Depending on how everything lines up, however, O’Malley sees a huge opportunity coming to fruition, allowing him to avenge his lone career loss against Vera.
“What’s going to happen? I don’t want to think too far into that,” O’Malley said. “Cejudo: ‘Marlon Vera is just a journeyman, not good enough to beat Cory Sandhagen.’ You know what, that’s not true. I used to call ‘Chito’ a journeyman, but that was before he beat all those good guys. I didn’t think ‘Chito’ was going to get as good as he did, but he’s gotten good. He’s gotten really good, and nothing but respect for him. I hope he beats Cory, and ‘Aljo’ beats Henry, ‘Aljo’ moves up to 145, and me versus ‘Chito,’ July, massive fight, for the belt.
“Or, ‘Aljo’ beats Henry, comes back, I sleep ‘Aljo’ like [Marlon Moraes] did, and then I beat up ‘Chito,’” he added. “Either way, it doesn’t matter to me, as long as ‘Chito’ gets the job done. I like Cory, but me versus ‘Chito’ is a massive fight. Me versus Cory — anybody is a good-sized fight. The biggest fight in the division is me versus anybody, but me versus ‘Chito,’ the people have been waiting for it, and it’s getting closer.”