Sean O’Malley just won his first UFC title. And now he wants a shot at another champion – in boxing.
“Sugar” scored a spectacular second-round knockout of Aljamain Sterling to capture the bantamweight title in the main event of Saturday’s UFC 292 card in Boston. He now sits atop one of MMA’s deepest divisions, with past rival Marlon Vera seemingly up next, as well as top challengers Cory Sandhagen, Merab Dvalishvili and Umar Nurmagomedov waiting in the wings.
When the prospect of rematching Vera was brought up, O’Malley begrudgingly expressed interest in the fight, but noted that he’d rather cross over into the world of boxing to face the undefeated Gervonta Davis.
“I thought I’d shoot a promo, but we’ll see,” O’Malley said at the UFC 292 post-fight press conference. “Just the way [Vera] acts, he’s so annoying. He’s not funny, he tries to be. He’s so ugly. He dresses like an idiot. It’s like, ‘God, do I really have to give this guy an opportunity?’ I’ll probably just go out there and whoop his ass, make a lot of money, so I could. So that could be it.
“I also wouldn’t mind knocking out Gervonta Davis, and I know people are going to go, ‘Ooh, you’re a wannabe Conor.’ I’m telling you, that fight is going to happen.”
O’Malley and Vera previously fought three years ago at UFC 252. Vera won via TKO in the first round with ground strikes, though O’Malley has disputed the victory, blaming it on a leg injury that he suffered during the fight. On Saturday, Vera outpointed Pedro Munhoz to keep his spot in the contenders circle.
Should O’Malley instead manage to set up an MMA vs. boxing clash with Davis, he would follow in the footsteps of Conor McGregor, who competed in a massive boxing match against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in August 2017.
“I feel like it could happen sooner than later,” O’Malley said. “But I also know, OK, UFC is down to get behind stuff like that if it’s big enough. With that performance, we’re getting close, but maybe I have to go out there, win a couple more fights, win another belt, I don’t know if he’s even considered a big enough star for the UFC to let that happen. It’ll happen.
“I said [winning the UFC title] was going to happen years ago, and I got so much s*** saying I was going to be the champ, I’m going to be the next big star, I’m going to be this, I’m going to be that. I got so much hate and s*** for it, but look at me now.”
Davis is coming off of his own marquee matchup, a clash with Ryan Garcia this past April. “Tank” dominated his fellow undefeated fighter before putting Garcia away in the seventh round. He is 29-0 in boxing, with 27 of those wins ending inside the distance.
It’s a challenge that O’Malley craves, and he feels he would be the A-side of the pairing.
“I don’t really follow boxing, but I’ve heard of Gervonta Davis,” O’Malley said. “I think he’s undefeated. I want to have crazy, massive fights. That s*** gets me excited. I love that stuff. There’s no stars in the bantamweight division. Gervonta, you can consider him almost a star, and that’s what gets me excited. Me vs. Gervonta would be f****** massive.”