UFC Bantamweight Champion Sean O’Malley has weighed in on the upcoming pivotal match in his division between Henry Cejudo and Merab Dvalishvili.
Set to unfold at UFC 298 next weekend, Cejudo and Dvalishvili are poised to engage in a potentially decisive bout in the bantamweight ranks, with the victor likely earning a shot at the winner of O’Malley versus Vera 2, scheduled for UFC 299 the following month.
While O’Malley has expressed interest in vying for the featherweight belt, he remains invested in the outcome of the Cejudo vs. Dvalishvili clash, leaning towards the Georgian fighter to emerge triumphant.
“Henry-Merab is kind of intriguing. I anticipate a close contest, but if I had to make a prediction, I’d say Merab will come out on top. I sense he’s more driven, whereas Henry’s return seems prompted by financial concerns and uncertainty. That’s my take. I think Merab may secure the victory,” O’Malley shared on Demetrious Johnson’s YouTube channel.
Heading into the showdown at UFC 298, Dvalishvili holds a -198 favorite status, while Cejudo stands as a +164 underdog according to oddsmakers, indicating a favorable outlook for the Georgian. At -198 odds, Dvalishvili is favored with a 66.4% probability of defeating the former champion and positioning himself for a potential title shot.
Yet, if Dvalishvili does indeed emerge victorious as O’Malley anticipates, ‘Suga’ isn’t necessarily eyeing him as his next opponent. Instead, he has expressed a preference for squaring off against Ilia Topuria, particularly if Topuria secures the featherweight title by defeating Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 298.
Before O’Malley can entertain either matchup, however, he must first defend his bantamweight title against Vera at UFC 299. Entering the bout with considerable confidence, O’Malley has pledged to deliver a memorable performance by knocking out Vera and successfully defending his championship for the first time.
Sean O’Malley (17-1 and one No Contest) most recently clinched the bantamweight title with a second-round TKO victory over Aljamain Sterling in August. His title shot stemmed from a notable upset victory over Petr Yan via split decision.
Throughout his career, O’Malley has secured notable wins against Raulian Paiva, Thomas Almeida, Eddie Wineland, and others.