O’Malley (17-1 MMA, 9-1 UFC) captured the 135-pound title by knocking out Aljamain Sterling at UFC 292 in August. O’Malley has one loss on his record – a TKO setback to Marlon Vera in August 2020.
Gutierrez (20-4-2 MMA, 8-2-1 UFC) lauded O’Malley, but is confident he could beat him now.
“I believe I could beat Sean O’Malley,” Gutierrez told MMA Junkie Radio. “I think he’s a good fighter. I’d be lying if I said, ‘Oh he sucks, he’s garbage.’ No, I think he’s very smart and calculated on how he approaches the game, but other than that, anyone can be beat. We can all be beat. There’s no Superman to him. I don’t give that power to people like that.”
Gutierrez has quietly climbed up the bantamweight ranks, losing just one fight in his past 10. He’s already had a taste of the division’s elite, scoring a knockout of Frankie Edgar, then losing a decision to Pedro Munhoz.
He rebounded with a win over Alateng Heili earlier this month, and hopes to draw another top-ranked bantamweight next.
“I take it one day at a time, one fight at a time,” Gutierrez said. “But, with that being said, I think I did enough to be in the mix now and to be talked about. I’m excited for what 2024 holds.”
After beating Heili, Gutierrez set his sights on the winner of the Rob Font vs. Deiveson Figueiredo matchup on Dec. 2. There’s also another key matchup he’s keeping his eye on.
“Maybe the winner of (Mario) Bautista and (Ricky) Simon, those are two other guys,” Gutierrez said. “We’re all going to face each other at some point, so might as well get it done now.”