Even if Marlon Vera doesn't think Sean O'Malley defeated Petr Yan, he still feels like "Sugar" ought to be the next contender.
At UFC 280's main bantamweight bout, O'Malley took on Yan and prevailed by split decision after three fiercely contested rounds. Vera doesn't quite agree with the accusations that the victory was a heist, but he also doesn't believe O'Malley came out on top.
“A lot of people had 3-0 to Yan. I had 2-1 to Yan,” Vera said Monday on The MMA Hour. “The body language of O’Malley was a body language of, ‘I lost the fight.’ Then when they gave it to him, I thought it was a gift decision, but again, f*** it. The guy won the fight. Now he’s going to have a No. 1 next his name I guess, but I believe it was a gift. I believe he got the decision gifted, but we’ll see what happens with that. It was a close fight. Both guys hurt each other, and I think everything comes down to the takedowns and the control time.”
“The level of there is pretty much the same. It’s who prepared better, who did enough reps, who put more time into it, and who can stay longer and didn’t catch up. So the guy can fight, but so can the rest of the whole division.”
O'Malley's victory wasn't just the biggest of his career; it also had the potential to completely upend the bantamweight division. Before the fight, Dana White and O'Malley both predicted that a victory would give O'Malley the next title shot; but, following, White claimed that former champion Henry Cejudo might be the next in line. O'Malley would find it difficult to accept the result, and Vera doesn't share his opinion.
“As a fight fan, anybody who beat the No. 1 contender should fight for the belt, right? That’s obvious,” Vera said. “O’Malley, it doesn’t matter what ranking he is, he beat No. 1, he should fight for the belt. But, the whole everybody thinks that was a gifted decision, everybody thinks he got a pass on that one, that can probably hurt what the UFC will do with him.
“It’s the same thing that happened with the Song Yadong fight. I got robbed, they gave me the O’Malley fight, then they gave me the [Jose] Aldo fight. I advanced after a loss. So O’Malley got the decision gifted, maybe they do the same thing, they probably hold him a little bit, make somebody else do it. But we’ll see. Again, that’s up Dana and the UFC. We’ll see what they want to do.”
In addition, if he had the option, Vera would like to benefit if O'Malley were to be overlooked.
“I’m a selfish prick so I will say myself,” Vera said when asked who deserves the next title shot. “Maybe [I will get it]. I said it before this fight, that decision is up to Dana White and the UFC. We can say whatever we want, I can go crazy, I can waste all my energy, but that’s up to the UFC. They’re the ones that will decide that. They’re the ones that will pick the next title contender. I’m ready though. If they call me, I’ll happily do it. If they call me for a No. 1 contender, I’ll also happily do it.
Vera last battled in August, defeating Dominick Cruz, a former two-time bantamweight champion, in the UFC San Diego main event.