Sean O’Malley wants to ‘put the lights out’ on ‘dangerous’ Ilia Topuria

Sean O’Malley plans to beat the best to become the best.

One potential opponent in O’Malley’s path to all-time greatness is top featherweight contender Ilia Topuria. “El Matador” challenges Alexander Volkanovski for the 145-pound title at UFC 298 on Feb. 17, and if Topuria is victorious, he already has a number of options ahead of him, including O’Malley.

The UFC bantamweight champion has previously mentioned wanting a future fight with Topuria, and while O’Malley has taken plenty of digs at him, he also has a ton of respect for the man who could soon be the featherweight division’s new king.

“I want to become champ-champ,” O’Malley told MMA legend Demetrious Johnson on the MightyCast podcast. “Ilia just has that face that I would love to f****** knee him right up the middle and break his little nose. So that’s that. I’ll probably head out to California and watch that fight, Ilia vs. Volk. It’s going to be a f****** sick fight.

“When I think of some of the most skilled fighters that I’ve ever watched, Ilia’s up there. Ilia is f****** dangerous. He’s one of the best all-around martial artists, he’s so f****** skilled. So it’s nothing like I don’t think he sucks. I think he’s very, very f****** dangerous. But I also think I’ll put his lights out, so it’s a nice little mix.”

Topuria has lived up to the hype since making his UFC debut in 2020. The 27-year-old is 6-0 inside the octagon, with four of those fights not making it past the second round. In his most recent outing, Topuria put on a five-round striking clinic to win a decision over Josh Emmett.

While O’Malley and others are quick to praise Topuria for his skills, O’Malley made it clear that he plans to add a win over Topuria to his already impressive résumé in the not-too-far future.

“I see you thinking I smoke and I do all that stuff — which isn’t bad, that’s kind of the persona I put off — but like I said, I don’t think there’s very many people that are dialed as I am, and I don’t really show that as much, and maybe I do transition and kind of start showing that because I’m chasing greatness.

“I want to be with the greatest of all-time. I want to defend this belt. I want to go knock out Ilia if he wins. I want to beat the guys that they say I can’t beat and stay dialed. I’m 29 right now, so I’ve got four, five, six more years depending on injuries and how things go. I’ve wanted to be the greatest since I started, but building that ‘Sugar’ brand, it almost looks like I don’t take this as seriously as I do and I don’t think people see that as much.”

Before O’Malley can make any plans to fight Topuria, he has to take care of business at UFC 299 first. O’Malley defends his bantamweight title in the March 9 main event against Marlon “Chito” Vera, the only fighter to defeat him in his career.

Should he emerge victorious, O’Malley is targeting a fight against Topuria in Las Vegas at the state-of-the-art Sphere arena in Las Vegas.

“I want The Sphere in Vegas,” O’Malley said. “Ilia. September, Mexican Independence Day, that’s kind of what I’m trying to manifest right now, but obviously I’ve got to get through f****** Chito. Very tough, durable Ecuadorian.”

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