Rising star Sean O’Malley believes he is just a couple of fights away from becoming the bantamweight champion. O’Malley will be looking to pick up his second win since returning from his lengthy USADA imposed hiatus. Last time out he stopped Jose Quinonez inside one round at UFC 248 earlier this year to improve his perfect record to 11-0.

The 25-year-old was recently booked to face former title challenger Eddie Wineland at UFC 250. ‘Sugar’ says although his opponent is no longer a top contender, beating him will still solidify his reputation as the top prospect in MMA.

“I think it’s a perfect next step up, next match,” O’Malley told Luke Thomas. “Beating him, he’s not one of the top top guys right now but he’s a vet, he’s got a weird style, and I think beating him definitely shows I’m as good as I say I am. But it’s not like I’m beating someone in the top 10 right now, so I think I go out there, beat him, it shows that the hype is real, but I’ve still got a lot to prove.”

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The UFC bantamweight title was made vacant earlier this week after Henry Cejudo confirmed his retirement from the sport. Four 135lb contenders are set to battle it out to become the next champion and O’Malley says it won’t be long before he is in line for a title shot.

“There’s four people they talk about for the bantamweight title,” he said. “No one is really standing out. No one is really like, ‘This is who we want to be our champ.’ I win a couple more fights, I’m that guy. I’m the guy that people are gonna want to see, the bantamweight champ. And I’m gonna go out there and perform like I did last time, against Eddie (Wineland), and whoever I fight next, I’m gonna go out there and do the same thing.

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“I’m only a couple fights away from the title, because if you look at the rankings, they don’t really matter. You had Jose Aldo ranked, what, number six in the bantamweight division? He’s never even won. You had Dominick Cruz coming off a loss fight (for the belt). The rankings don’t matter. I think those top four dudes right now, (Aljamain) Sterling, (Petr) Yan, Cory (Sandhagen), and . . . Marlon (Moraes), those top four dudes are killers. They’re high level blackbelts in MMA. But no one is talking about them. No one is like, ‘That’s the dude.’ No one is that interested. I’m that guy. I’m the guy that’s going to come, knock these dudes out, get my title shot, and I’m gonna be champ. It’s gonna be people want to see me there, and it’s going to be exciting.” (Transcribed by MMA Fighting)

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Do you think Sean O’Malley will be ready for a title shot in the next year?

A lifelong fight fan from Liverpool, England who has been covering mixed martial arts (MMA) and boxing for several years. Follow @JordanEllisUK on Twitter for all the latest fight news, views, interviews and live event coverage.