He only recently returned to the octagon after two years on the sidelines, but Sean O’Malley is clearly one of the most sought-after names in the UFC’s bantamweight division.
After finishing Jose Quinonez with a devastating head kick at UFC 248, “Sugar” has attracted a lot of attention from fellow 135-pound fighters, including Brian Kelleher and Merab Dvalishvili, who both called for a showdown with the undefeated talent.
Some people take offense to being a wanted man BO’Malley has had plenty of time to get used to it, even when he isn’t actively competing.
“I got called out by nine guys when I was out for two years,” O’Malley told MMA Fighting’s Eurobash podcast. “Some of them are going to help my career; fighting someone like Brian Kelleher is not going to do much. I think he’s 10-5 or something like that. He looks like he smokes cigarettes – he’s not going to do anything for my career. I’m definitely looking for smart fights - people that are going to up me. I go in and smoke [Kelleher], they’ll be like, ‘Cool, that kid sucks.’ It’s pointless to talk about guys like that.”
O’Malley likened his current situation to Conor McGregor’s when he first emerged as a force at 145 pounds. He doubts he’ll continue to garner the same kind of attention as more opponents fall.
“It’s good to be getting called out by a bunch of people,” he said. “Conor ... was called out by everyone. I think the more I fight, the less I’m going to be called out, [because people will] recognize how dangerous I am.
“Right now, people still think, ‘I’m going to take him down and that’s going to be the end of the fight.’ It’s not going to be the end of the fight – I will choke someone if they take me down. I train jiu-jitsu more than I do anything. Jiu-jitsu is pretty much my life; I love jiu-jitsu, [and] I train it all the time. I train with really good people, but I haven’t got to show that too much.”
With everything currently at a standstill due to the coronavirus pandemic, O’Malley is staying focused in improving himself rather than considering his next move.
“When we’re about two months out, then we’ll talk to the UFC and we’ll figure out opponents,” he said. “If we had an opponent right now, he could break his arm. For me, it’s about getting better right now – it’s not about who we should fight next.”
Listen to Sean O’Malley’s debut appearance on Eurobash. It begins at 47:30.