Sworn bantamweight rivals, ‘Sugar’ Sean O’Malley and Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera have already shared the Octagon as recently as UFC 252 in August, and despite the controversial ending to his first professional loss, O’Malley claims he’s disinterested in running-back a pairing with the recent falter, Vera.
Taking co-main event status at UFC Vegas 17 earlier this month at the promotion’s final event of the year, the streaking 135-pound contender, Vera was handily dealt with by former featherweight kingpin, Jose Aldo over three-rounds on route to his first defeat in six outings at bantamweight.
Drafted into the high-profile pairing against the Brazilian, Vera was fresh from an August victory over O’Malley — landing a well-placed calf kick in the opening round, resulting in a flare-up of a recent leg injury for the latter.
With restricted movement and mobility, O’Malley fell to the canvas via a combination from Vera, who then assumed stack guard — before scoring a series of heavy ground-and-pound strikes to grab an underdog finish.
O’Malley, who still maintains that he’s mentally undefeated despite the loss to the Ecuadorian, had featured at UFC 250 in July, laying waste to former WEC 135-pound best, Eddie Wineland with a stunning one-punch knockout.
Bounced from the top-fifteen rankings, O’Malley, who has eyed a return to action in March recently distanced himself from a re-run with Team Oyama trainee, Vera, detailing how a matchup with the 28-year-old would be a backstep for his career, claiming the latter would need to form another winning streak first.
“For me to rematch (Marlon Vera), he’ll have to be on a win streak,” O’Malley said during a recent episode of his podcast. “I feel like I’m just a different level fighter [than Vera]. That would be like fighting someone backwards. He said there’s not enough money in the world to fight me again. But dude, if he loses another fight and he’s like, ‘I wanna fight Sean again,’ he’s about to be Chito ‘Prelim’ Vera.“
Prior to the late first-round knockout, O’Malley had returned from a similar leg injury at UFC 248 in March, taking home another eye-catching stoppage. Facing Jose Alberto Quinonez, the Montana native managed a first-round knockout before landing his second consecutive finish with his July stoppage of the above mentioned, Wineland.