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UFC bantamweight Sean O’Malley ‘literally just grappling’ in preparation for ‘guaranteed’ title shot

Sean O’Malley knows he needs to work hard on his grappling if he is to become a UFC champion.

UFC 280: Open Workouts
Sean O’Malley at the UFC 280 open workouts.
Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Sean O’Malley is preparing for a potential bantamweight title shot by focusing solely on his grappling.

“Suga” recently beat former champion Petr Yan to earn top contender status and says he is “guaranteed” a title shot against the winner of the proposed matchup between Aljamain Sterling and Henry Cejudo, who are anticipated to face off in March.

O’Malley told UFC Hall of Famer and former middleweight champion Michael Bisping (h/t Drake Riggs) that he has been focusing less on his striking as he prepares for his first title shot, stating:

“I’m just training, I’m getting better. “I know I need to improve in aspects of my grappling whether I fight ‘Aljo’ or Henry. They’re both very heavy grapplers, so I’m fine with sitting out. I’m literally just grappling. That’s all I’m really doing nowadays. I’m fine waiting a couple months, just keep getting better.”

“I’m in a tricky position,” he added. “I always knew I’d be in this position where you’re at the top of the division. It doesn’t really make sense to fight. I’m guaranteed a title shot. Obviously, ‘Aljo’ and Henry still have to be announced. I’m kind of in that position where do I be smart — like I’ve done my entire career — and just wait for those two dorks to fight or do I risk it and go fight someone else? Which wouldn’t be the intelligent thing to do, but it’s like you only get so many years to fight. I don’t really feel like sitting around too much.”

“I’m leaning towards waiting around for ‘Aljo’ and Henry to fight and just wait for that.”

As for who O’Malley will be fighting for the title, he thinks it will be current UFC bantamweight champ Sterling, who he credited as having better submissions than Cejudo.

“I think ‘Aljo’ probably submits Henry,” O’Malley said. “Who knows how hard Henry’s been training. These last few years he had a baby, he clearly wasn’t in good shape. Every time you saw him at the fights he looked fat and drunk so I don’t know, I think ‘Aljo’ probably chokes him.”

O’Malley is currently #1 in the UFC bantamweight rankings, boasting a professional record of 16-1 (1 NC). He lost to Marlon Vera via injury TKO at UFC 252, which was his only defeat.