O’Malley (16-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) cemented himself as the No. 1 bantamweight contender when he edged out former champion Petr Yan at UFC 280. Vera has a big headliner against Cory Sandhagen (15-4 MMA, 8-3 UFC) at UFC Fight Night 219 on Feb. 18, and champion Aljamain Sterling is expected to defend his title against Henry Cejudo next.
Vera (20-7-1 MMA, 14-6 UFC) is the only man to beat O’Malley with a finish over him by TKO at UFC 252. Since then, both men have emerged as top contenders and O’Malley thinks a title fight rematch with “Chito” would be the biggest fight in the division.
“What’s going to happen? I don’t want to think too far into that,” O’Malley said on his YouTube channel. “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 vs. ‘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.’ Either way, it doesn’t matter to me, as long as ‘Chito’ gets the job done. I like Cory, but me vs. ‘Chito’ is a massive fight. Me vs. Cory, anybody, is a good-sized fight. The biggest fight in the division is me vs. anybody, but me vs. ‘Chito,’ the people have been waiting for it, and it’s getting closer.”
With the fight taking place in the smaller UFC Apex cage, O’Malley thinks it does Sandhagen and his movement a disservice.
“I think Cory is going to bounce around, be fast – people look good against ‘Chito’ early,” O’Malley said. “I feel like everyone kind of wins those initial rounds. F*cking Frankie Edgar won 14 minutes of the fight and then got head kicked by that goddamned toe. So I don’t know. Five rounds, small cage, I would say benefits ‘Chito.’ If it was big cage, three rounds, I would probably pick Cory. I don’t know. I’m excited for that fight. It’s going to be a sweet fight.”