Sean O’Malley’s coach, Tim Welch revealed the reason why referee Marc Goddard reprimanded him during last weekend’s UFC 292 main event.
On August 19, O’Malley climbed to the top of the 135-pound mountain, capturing the bantamweight world championship with a vicious second-round knockout of Aljamain Sterling inside Boston’s iconic TD Garden. Days removed from the highlight-reel-worthy finish, O’Malley’s coach, Tim Welch, joined James Lynch in a MiddleEasy exclusive to discuss their epic title win and what could come next.
During their conversation, Welch immediately addressed the reprimand he received from Marc Goddard in between the first and second rounds.
“I was just talking to Aljo because I know in Aljo’s last three fights, he pressures people until they kick and when they kick, he catches the kick and runs them into the fence, Cory Sandhage, T.J. Dillashaw,” Welch said. “Some of his fights he does that. And then I was just reminding him that Marlon Moraes was coming. Something flying is coming. I just wanted to do something to hesitate him from coming forward so hard and taking such shots.
“I wanted to be able to freeze him up a little bit. I might have worked. It might not have, but [Goddard] was just saying don’t talk to Aljo.”
Following O’Malley’s perfectly placed counter right that sent Sterling crashing to the canvas, ‘Sugar’ called for a rematch with the only man who has handed him a loss inside the Octagon, Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera. Asked if that callout was pre-planned, Welch revealed that they initially wanted to call for a fight with lightweight boxing star Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis, but decided to switch it up on the fly.
Sugar Sean O’Malley did THIS to Aljamain Sterling to become the Bantamweight World Champion! 😳 pic.twitter.com/omQUgLzFHd
— Multiplicity Media Group (@MultiplicityMG) August 20, 2023
“That was my fault. We planned on it to be a sweeter callout to Gervonta Davis, but I brought up ‘Chito’ because I think it’s always smart in your post-fight interview to have a name in mind to build the next fight, but I don’t know what’s going to be next for him,” Welch revealed. “Probably whatever’s going to be the biggest. Whatever’s going to make the most sense. Whatever fight’s going to be biggest and right now, that’s probably ‘Chito’ Vera. So, hopefully, that can happen in December.”
As for how he sees a rematch with ‘Chito’ Vera playing out, Welch believes they can give Vera a tough time in the Octagon, similar to what Cory Sandhagen did to ‘Chito’ in March.
“I just see the huge cage and I see the huge roaring crowd and I see a lot of pressure on Sean obviously, but I see a lot of pressure on ‘Chito’ also and the way ‘Chito’ could not figure out Cory Sandhagen at all,” Welch added. “Cory Sandhagen made him look bad. I can see it going similar to that.”
Tim Welch Says Sean O’Malley is Willing to Take on Anyone at the Top of the Bantamweight Division
The bantamweight division is one of the most talent-stacked weight classes in all of MMA. With O’Malley’s victory, the door seems to have been blown wide open for an assortment of 135-pound stars to step through the gate and claim their shot at UFC gold.
“All these guys are up there. Cory Sandhagen is up there. Henry [Cejudo] is up there. ‘Chito’ is up there. Merab [Dvalishvili]. All these guys. [We’re] gonna go meet with the UFC next week and maybe try to figure out what’s next,” Welch said.
Welch also confirmed that the goal is to see Sean O’Malley return for his first title defense this December at UFC 296, but much of that hinges on how things play out with a rib injury that ‘Sugar’ is currently nursing.
“As long as we can get this rib [injury] healed,” Welch said. “And it’s getting better. If we get the rib healed, then December for sure. He’s healthy, he’s confident and I think we’d be ready to go in December for sure.”
Who that December title defense will be against remains to be seen, but it sounds like fight fans won’t have to wait too long for the answer.