UFC 2024 Seasonal Press Conference
Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

The bantamweight division will hold the first UFC title fight rematch of 2024.

Sean O’Malley’s crowning moment against Aljamain Sterling at UFC 292 this past August was one of the highlights of the year. The reigning bantamweight champion fulfilled his personally long-expected dream after launching to superstardom through season one of Dana White’s Contender Series in July 2017. Along the way, there was only one setback of the “Sugar Show,” which came opposite Ecuador’s Marlon “Chito” Vera in August 2020.

Vera TKO’d the future champion in round one and went on to remain one of the division’s most violent finishers, but small hiccups prevented him from reaching his own title shot. The biggest of those came in early 2023 when he lost to Cory Sandhagen via a unanimous decision. “Chito,” however, rebounded to get back in the win column the same night that O’Malley became champion as he earned a unanimous decision over Pedro Munhoz.

The victory was enough to earn the Ecuadorian a title shot despite the vast talent pool of contenders at 135 pounds, which even surprised Vera’s rival O’Malley.

“I’m honestly surprised that it’s happening in a sense,” O’Malley told Helen Yee. “I didn’t think that he would get to the title shot, and did he really deserve it after his performance over Pedro? I don’t know, but I thought, you know what? It’s time that I take him out. So, here we are and it’s very exciting.”

Success hasn’t been hard to find for Vera (23-8-1) since his O’Malley triumph. The aforementioned mishap against Sandhagen was only one of two losses in his seven bouts since. Ultimately, the loss, injuries to other contenders, and the timing couldn’t have been better for O’Malley to pass Vera by in the Sterling title fight sweepstakes.

Bad blood is certainly present between the two in this upcoming matchup as it was previously. It’s not anywhere near a boil though. Both men have remained composed and confident when speaking about or around each other. From the champion’s perspective, he’s coming to prove a point and get redemption for his only loss in 19 fights.

That alone is enough for the rematch to be worth making as his first title defense, believes O’Malley.

“I think it’s the biggest fight in the division,” O’Malley said. “I think it’s an important fight from what happened the first time. I claimed that I’m undefeated and he claims that he beat me, so now March 9, we get to settle it to see who was right.

“There’s a possibility it does [go the distance]. He’s never been submitted, never been knocked out. He’s very, very durable. I just truly, truly believe that I’m on another level and going to bring a level of performance that the UFC has never even seen. I think I’m gonna hit a level that people will be shocked at, and I’m gonna put on a masterful, beautiful performance.

“We’ve seen ‘Aljo’ get knocked out, but we’ve just never seen ‘Chito’ get finished. That would be extra special,” he concluded.


TOP STORIES

Collab. BKFC President David Feldman ‘creating an ally’ during recent meeting with UFC CEO Dana White

Money. Renato Moicano celebrates 62-year-old father having baby, announces SWAT plans in wild post-fight speech

Victory. Nassourdine Imavov outstrikes Roman Dolidze to win UFC Vegas 85 main event, gets into war of words with Chris Curtis

Rough. Someone getting fired tomorrow’: Fighters react to odd judge’s score, weird UFC Vegas 85 main event

Interesting. Holly Holm considered being Amanda Nunes comeback opponent: ‘I have all the respect for her

Contention. Cory Sandhagen believes he could be next for title shot: ‘I still see a lot of argument for me fighting for the belt

Earned. Road to UFC video: 3 fighters earn contracts with thrilling finishes

Return. KSW champion Phil De Fries faces Josh Barnett in submission grappling match on Feb. 24

Transition. Aljamain Sterling eager for 145 debut: ‘I’ve been hurting for a very, very long time

Nope. Nassourdine Imavov trashes ‘quitter’ Chris Curtis, explains disinterest in rematch

Matchup. Robert Whittaker: Dricus du Plessis loss was wake-up call, ‘I beat him 9 times out of 10


VIDEO STEW

UFC Vegas 85 Post Show.

Superlek vs. Takeru in full.

C3 fight camp.

Arnold’s Amsterdam eats.

Back drilling.


MORNING MUSIC


SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE

A Weili weekend.

An unlikely visit.

Ice, ice, baby.

Snow scuffle.

Victory…?

Night sky.

Lol.

Scrap.

GOAT.

Interesting…

Re-ignited.

Setback.

Fouls.

Callout.

Update.

Y.

Bias?

Reaper.

Poor Dan.


FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Hyder Amil (8-0) vs. Fernie Garcia (10-4); UFC Vegas 86, Feb. 10

Ihor Potieria (19-5) vs. Robert Bryczek (17-5); UFC Vegas 86, Feb. 10

Matt Schnell (16-7, 1 NC) vs. Steve Erceg (11-1); UFC Vegas 87, March 2

Alessandro Costa (13-4) vs. Kevin Borjas (9-2); UFC 301, May 4

Paul Craig (17-7-1) vs. Caio Borralho (15-1); UFC 301, May 4


FINAL THOUGHTS

The durability of Chito plus two extra rounds really does make the O’Malley rematch more compelling. I still don’t think it’s the best or most exciting title fight that can be made, but it has enough intrigue, obviously.

Thanks for reading!


POLL POSITION

Last Week’s Results:

Friday: 92% of 657 total votes answered “No” when asked, “Will the Dustin Poirier vs. Benoit Saint Denius negotiation story lead to any change in practice from the UFC?

Thursday: 35% of 227 total votes answered “Roman Dolidze and Drew Dober” when asked, “Who wins this weekend?” Nassourdine Imavov defeated Dolidze via a majority decision in UFC Vegas 85’s main event and Renato Moicano defeated Dober via a unanimous decision in UFC Vegas 85’s co-main event.

Wednesday: 60% of 724 total votes answered “Conor McGregor vs. Michael Chandler” when asked, “Which interests you more right now?

Tuesday: 85% of 508 total votes answered “No” when asked, “Is defeating Tyron Woodley the most impressive thing Jake Paul has done in boxing?

Monday: 74% of 470 total votes answered “Israel Adesanya” when asked, “Who does Dricus Du Plessis fight first?

Today’s exit poll:


If you find something you’d like to see in the Morning Report, hit up @DrakeRiggs_ on Twitter and let him know about it. Also, follow MMAFighting on Instagram and like us on Facebook.

Staff
Author: Staff

Please go to MMAFighting.com to read full article.

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