Sean O’Malley is still celebrating his stunning win over Aljamain Sterling to claim the UFC bantamweight title. But there’s no rest for the weary, which is why there’s already talk about who he’ll fight next.
Almost immediately after O’Malley scored a second-round knockout to become UFC champion, he was already pushing a rematch against Chito Vera, the only person to hold a win over him in his professional career.
Vera, who won earlier at UFC 292 with a decision win over Pedro Munhoz, would welcome the chance to jump the line and fight for the title against O’Malley. While he does hold a win over the new UFC champion, he opened as the underdog in a potential rematch with O’Malley after securing his spot as the favorite.
The opening odds are courtesy of Sportsbetting.ag.
Chito Vera +130
Sean O’Malley -150
Based on those odds, it would take a $150 bet to win back $100 on O’Malley, while a $100 bet on Vera would yield $130 if he pulled off the upset.
While O’Malley would enjoy his favorite status against Vera, the same can’t be said for a potential showdown with top ranked bantamweight contender Merab Dvalishvili, who based on rankings alone should be next in line for a title shot.
Dvalishvili has rattled off nine straight wins, including a shutout performance against ex-UFC champion Petr Yan in March. The Georgian bantamweight was also doing his best to avoid a showdown with Sterling, who is one of his closest friends and teammates.
With Sterling losing the title, that opens the door for Dvalishvili to pursue the title now that O’Malley reigns as champion, and it appears he would be heavily favored to win in that matchup.
Merab Dvalishvili -200
Sean O’Malley +170
Those opening odds have Dvalishvili as a 2-1 favorite over O’Malley, which means it would take a $200 bet to win back $100 if he was successful in becoming UFC champion. Meanwhile, a $100 bet on O’Malley would return $170 if he were victorious in the fight with Dvalishvili.
The UFC hasn’t made any decisions regarding O’Malley’s next fight, much less the opponent, but the new bantamweight champion has made it clear he would like to compete again before the end of 2023.