Since his recent win, fans and media have speculated on who bantamweight star Sean O’Malley will fight next. Well, the twelfth-ranked talent also has a few guesses on who he could next step into the Octagon with, and it includes a couple of options in the top-15.
O’Malley (15-1) is on another winning streak and riding high following his first-round destruction of Raulian Paiva at UFC 269 in December. It was a third straight knockout W and his eleventh KO overall. The streak has returned him to the rankings and the options for who he could face next seem endless.
Will it be another fighter in the bantamweight top-15? Maybe a fellow young gun on the rankings bubble? Maybe a division legend or former champion on the decline? “Sugar” was recently asked about that on popular podcast Food Truck Diaries, and the 27-year-old quickly listed off three names that, on paper, would be fights many UFC fans would salivate over.
Sean O’Malley lists three possible opponent options for his UFC return
“There’s the Adrian Yanez fight that I think a lot of people would love to see. It’s two young strikers. And I look at Adrian Yanez as a really good striker. I mean he’s a black belt in jiu-jitsu too. He’s a stud. He’s not ranked [but] I don’t care. I’ve never cared about rankings,” O’Malley said. “There’s that fight. Prelim-Pedro [Munhoz] is an option. Dominick Cruz could still be an option. I don’t think Cody [Garbrandt’s] an option right now, just because it’s high-risk low-reward.”
All three of those men are skilled strikers and would offer O’Malley favorable matchups while also being serious tests.
Yanez (15-3) is unbeaten over four fights in the Octagon after he earned his UFC contract on the 2020 season of Dana White’s Contender Series, He is currently unranked, but he is a rising star who is quickly growing in popularity, and both have said publicly that they would be down for a scrap with each other.
Munhoz (19-7) is in a bit of a slump after losing three of his last four. However, he has maintained a spot in the top-10 because those three defeats were in closely contested fights against former UFC champions Frankie Edgar, Jose Aldo, and Dominick Cruz.
Cruz’s (24-3) last victory came against the aforementioned Munhoz on the prelims of UFC 269. He has won two straight victories after back-to-back losses that bookended a four-year hiatus from MMA. He’s a former division champion and viewed as the best bantamweight of all time.
Who is your preferred opponent option between Yanez, Munhoz, and Cruz?