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Sean O’Malley’s pursuit of a second UFC world title looks to be on the long finger for now.

The bantamweight champion, who defended his crown earlier this month with a clear-cut decision win against Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera, had suggested that he may seek to move up a division to seek a bout with featherweight king Ilia Topuria in his next outing — a move which would have led the obvious number one contender in his own division, Merab Dvalishvili, waiting in the wings.

But speaking on the TimboSugarShow podcast this week, O’Malley’s pursuit of 145-pound is on hold while he deals with the Georgian fighter who is in the midst of a ten-fight winning streak at 135.

“Merab’s next,” O’Malley said, as noted by MMA Fighting. “Merab is f*cking next. Your wish is granted.”

O’Malley also rejected any suggestions that he had been avoiding Dvalishvili, whose last three fights saw him take out three former UFC world champions in Henry Cejudo, Petr Yan and Jose Aldo.

“A lot of people said I’m ducking him. I just really am not ducking that little dude,” O’Malley explained. “I like the fight for me. There’s multiple ways to win. I’m excited about the fight now, finally. I was never ducking him, I was just never excited to fight him.

“Like the ‘Chito’ rematch, the time will come where it’s the right time to fight certain people. Merab’s next, and be careful what you wish for, buddy.”

Separately, O’Malley’s coach, Tim Welch, told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour this, also via MMA Fighting, that Dvalishvili — known for his relentless pace in the Octagon — will pose some dangers to his fighter.

“Merab is just an animal,” Welch said earlier this week. “Anyone who’s on a 10-fight win streak too, they have a certain sense of confidence to them, which is scary in itself, and his cardio is freakishly [good].

“It’s so scary. His five-round cardio is so scary, but I know also he’s never faced anybody like Sean and it’s going to be a big cage, and I’m really excited. There’s definitely ways for us to win. There’s ways for us to lose the fight, too. If we show up not on that night — Sean shows up every time, but Merab is a problem. He really is. But there’s ways for us to win.”