Umar Nurmagomedov thinks he can finish UFC bantamweight champ Sean O’Malley

ABU DHABI – Umar Nurmagomedov thinks he’s a bad stylistic matchup for UFC bantamweight champion Sean O’Malley.

Undefeated Nurmagomedov (16-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) is a rising contender in the bantamweight division. He has finished three of his four UFC opponents, most recently a first-round knockout of Raoni Barcelos in January.

Nurmagomedov was booked in a potential No. 1 contender headliner fight against Cory Sandhagen August in Nashville, but withdrew due to a shoulder injury which required surgery. But, the 27-year-old is confident he’d pose problems for O’Malley now.

“I think I can strike with him, fight however I want,” Nurmagomedov said during the UFC 294 Q&A Thursday. “I think I will finish him: Take him down, choke, or submit – maul him there.”

When asked who would pose him a bigger threat, O’Malley, or former champion Aljamain Sterling, Nurmagomedov said he doesn’t expect to face issues with either.

“I don’t know – I really don’t know,” Nurmagomedov said. “Sterling I think is more dangerous in wrestling and grappling. If he takes your back, it’s going to be very difficult for you to get out. Sean O’Malley, he’s very good in striking. I don’t think they make me trouble, both of them.”

Nurmagomedov is eyeing a return in the first quarter of 2023, and is willing to take on any top-ranked contender offered.

“Of course I want to fight with No. 1 in the rankings, top 10,” Nurmagomedov said. “With this, I don’t care. If they will give me anybody, I will accept and smash.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 294.

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