Sean O’Malley fears he may have to wait longer than he has to for his shot at UFC gold.
O’Malley (16-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) cemented himself as the No. 1 bantamweight contender when he defeated former champion Petr Yan at UFC 280 in October. But with the UFC apparently deciding to give the returning Henry Cejudo the next crack at defending champ Aljamene Sterling, it may be a little too late for O’Malley.
No date has been announced for a title match between Sterling (22-3 MMA, 14-3 UFC) and Cejudo (16-2 MMA, 10-2 UFC), with O’Malley wondering if he will get the title. Must compete in the meantime, but he doesn’t think it’s worth the risk.
“I’m in a difficult position,” O’Malley said on Michael Bisping’s “Believe You Me” podcast. “I always knew I would be in that position where you top the division, (and) there’s really no point in fighting. I am guaranteed a title shot.
“Obviously Alzo and Henry still have to be announced, so I’m in a position where I’m like, ‘Am I smart like I’ve been my whole career and just wait for those two dorks to fight? , Or should I risk it and go fight someone else?’ It wouldn’t be wise to do that, but it seems like you’ve only got so many years to fight, and I really don’t like sitting around too much. But I’m waiting for Alzo and Henry to fight and that’s all I am waiting.
O’Malley did not mind that Cejudo was awarded the title shot before him. He will use the extended time off to work on an area of his game that he knows will be important – whether he faces Sterling or Cejudo.
“I’m really not too worried about it,” O’Malley said. “I’m training now. I’m getting better. I know I need to improve on aspects of my grappling whether I fight Elzo or Henry. Both are very heavy grapplers, so I’m better off sitting out.” I’m really just scrambling. That’s really all I do nowadays, so I’m looking forward to a few extra months, just keep getting better.