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UFC bantamweight champion Sean O’Malley has admitted here is only one fighter on the roster who truly makes sense for his next title shot, should he defeat Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera next month.

O’Malley said in the aftermath of Ilia Topuria’s featherweight title win against Alexander Volkanovski last weekend that he had designs on fighting the newly-crowned champion, and potentially adding his name to the UFC’s list of champ-champ titleholders. However, this prompted some negative feedback from fight fans, many of whom expressed that Merab Dvalishvili, who defeated Henry Cejudo last weekend in what was his tenth successive win at 135-pounds should be O’Malley’s next assignment — again, if he defeats Vera at UFC 299.

And speaking on his YouTube channel, O’Malley said that these opinions were not without merit.

“Let me start with this: initially I was calling for Ilia,” he said, as noted by MMA Fighting. “I wanted the Ilia fight. I wanted that fight. It excites me, but I also thought the fans would get excited about it. But I got a lot of pushback saying, ‘You’re ducking Merab! Merab is next!’ So Merab’s next. Let’s do Merab.”

O’Malley, who will seek to avenge his sole career defeat in the March 9 UFC event against Vera, added that should the Dvalishvili fight become reality, he expects it won’t last the distance.

“I’m telling you guys, I knock Merab out,” O’Malley said. “I rewatched Henry vs. Aljo after I was there and I told you guys, I’m knocking Aljo out. All you guys said, ‘No way. You’re not knocking Aljo out! He’s going to take you down and kill you!’ Here we go again.

“Obviously, I’ve got to get through Chito, but I’m telling you guys, when I fight Merab, I’m knocking that dude out. He’s sloppy. I’m accurate. I’m too fast. I’m too sharp. I’m telling you boys. I put Merab’s lights out, worse than Aljo. Aljo, little TKO. Merab, I’m putting to sleep. Turning his nose straight.”

“The Ilia fight can happen some day,” O’Malley added. “He keeps doing his thing, I keep doing my thing, that’s a big fight some day. I just want to fight for the people. I want to make the biggest fights possible.”