MMA fighting

Sean O’Malley vs. Pedro Munhoz targeted for UFC 276

UFC bantamweight star Sean O’Malley is set to face ranked opposition in his next octagon outing with a meeting against vet Pedro Munhoz targeted for UFC 276.

Several people with knowledge of the promotion’s plans have confirmed to MMA Fighting that verbal agreements are in place for the match with fight agreements expected to be signed. ESPN.com first reported the game. UFC 276 takes place July 2 at T-Mobile in Las Vegas and anchors the promotion’s International Fight Week.

O’Malley’s scheduled meeting with Munhoz addresses a long-standing criticism of the fighter’s level of competition. Dana White’s Contender Series vet burst onto the scene and built a massive following amid a four-fight winning streak against unranked competition. Then, in a meeting with top bantamweight Marlon Vera, he stumbled badly in a first-round TKO loss. Since then, he’s picked up three more wins over tough – but still unranked – opponents in the crowded division, most recently Raulian Paiva at UFC 269.

O’Malley indicated he was ready to fight Munhoz and asked fans about his training schedule.

Munhoz, meanwhile, has faced only ranked opposition for much of his octagon career. This led to a late career slip with the Brazilian going 1-4 with his four defeats against current or former champions: Aljamain Sterling, Frankie Edgar, Jose Aldo and most recently Dominick Cruz.

UFC 276 is set to feature a fight between ex-bantamweight champion Miesha Tate and Lauren Murphy. According to screenshots from a recent video interview with UFC President Dana White, the promotion is also targeting a middleweight title fight between champion Israel Adesanya and Jared Cannonier and a fight between Nate Diaz and Khamzat Chimaev.

Mike Heck and Damon Martin contributed to this report.