Sean O’Malley became the new UFC bantamweight (135 lbs) champion on Saturday night, beating Aljamain Sterling via second round TKO in Boston.
Now, the 28-year-old O’Malley is renewing his public interest in a boxing match with Gervonta “Tank” Davis.
“I also wouldn’t mind knocking out Gervonta Davis, and I know people are gonna go, ‘Ahh, you want to be Conor (McGregor),” he said at the post-fight press conference. “I’m telling you, that fight is going to happen.”
So let’s talk about this on two very different levels.
Can Sean O’Malley beat Gervonta Davis in a boxing match?
No. He super-duper cannot. Sorry. No offense. He is just not a professional boxer* and Gervonta Davis is an extremely good one. I am aware that O’Malley is tall. He would not be the first much taller guy Gervonta Davis beat, and those guys were professional boxers.
* O’Malley does have one pro boxing fight, a club-level TKO-1 win in Phoenix over seven years ago.
Davis’ most recent opponent, Ryan Garcia, offered some blunt advice to O’Malley after the call-out:
SUGA Sean you are good and all
But stop talking about this I’m going to box stuff
You’ll just get knocked out.
— RYAN GARCIA (@RyanGarcia) August 20, 2023
Can Gervonta Davis vs Sean O’Malley happen?
Yes. If the money is there, and if UFC and PBC can work it out, then the fight can be made. O’Malley seems to really want it, and it’s not like Tank or his team have ever been averse to disappointing diehard boxing fans with matchups, in part because Davis can sell a fight very easily without worry all that much about diehard boxing fans. Add in a curious UFC fan base, and you have a blockbuster in the making.
Now a sub-question here would be, “Do we think this will happen?” And I think that depends on what UFC and Dana White see as O’Malley’s ultimate potential. Is this a potential long-term star, or a flash whose career probably peaked last night?
O’Malley, if they see him as a long-term top guy, has cash cow potential for UFC. If White and the brass see that in O’Malley, it seems unlikely they’d want to see him possibly get smoked boxing Tank.
And his major drawing power is far more potential than established; this isn’t like McGregor fighting Mayweather in 2017. Conor had done five UFC PPV main events by the time he boxed Floyd, and realistically, White and Co. may have seen the end of his peak competitive days in sight. (If so, they were correct, it turned out.)
If it does happen while O’Malley is reigning UFC champion, it’s a monster commercial event. O’Malley and Davis both have fans, both have a lot of buzz, both have that certain appeal that goes far beyond dedicated super-fans of their sports, and it will sell at the gate and on pay-per-view.