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Cody Garbrandt: Merab Dvalishvili fight will test how legit UFC champ Sean O’Malley is

Cody Garbrandt isn’t too sold on UFC bantamweight champion Sean O'Malley just yet.

O’Malley (18-1 MMA, 10-1 UFC) defeated ex-champ Petr Yan to become No. 1 contender, knocked out Aljamain Sterling to become champion, and battered Marlon Vera in his first title defense.

However, Garbrandt (14-5 MMA, 9-5 UFC) thinks there are a few asterisks that come with those wins.

“He didn’t beat Yan, so let’s be honest,” Garbrandt told MMA Junkie. “He was given that. The Aljo fight, I think Aljo just pushed, raced fast back to bantamweight. Those weight cuts took a toll on him. As a champion, they want to keep you busy. … (Sterling) came right in, right in front of him, sharp-shot him, caught him.

“So good on ‘Sugar’ Sean to be the champion, to beat Aljamain. Aljamain had a great run. The ‘Chito’ (Vera) fight was so-so for me. His first title defense, he went five rounds against a guy who gave him his first loss, but back story is ‘Chito’ didn’t have the best camp, was injured going in. Who knows?”

O’Malley is targeting Merab Dvalishvili (17-4 MMA, 10-2 UFC) for his next title defense. Garbrandt sees Dvalishvili as a test to prove if O’Malley is really that good.

“I think this Merab fight is going to be pretty interesting to see how legit ‘Sugar’ Sean is,” Garbrandt said. “Can he stuff takedowns? Can he go the distance in a higher-paced fight. ‘Chito’ didn’t try to take one takedown. This is mixed martial arts.”

Garbrandt meets Deiveson Figueiredo (22-3-1 MMA, 11-3-1 UFC) in Saturday’s UFC 300 (pay-per-view, ESPN, ESPN+) opener at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 300.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie