Sean O’Malley enjoys a good game of mental warfare, but he claims that wasn’t his intention when dyeing his hair the colors of his upcoming opponent’s home country.
During an early episode of the UFC 252 Embedded series, the 25-year-old Contender Series winner was seen coloring his hair yellow, blue and red to match the Ecuadorian flag. According to O’Malley, he definitely got the idea after he was matched up with Marlon “Chito” Vera, a native of Ecuador.
“The inspiration I got to color my hair, I’d have to say was from Chito,” O’Malley said during the UFC 252 media day. “[He] gave me the inspiration.
“I’m just showing my Ecuadorian fans some love. I think every fight we’ll do something different and have a nice little theme. It’s something I look forward to and it’s fun.”
The fact that O’Malley is wearing the colors of the Ecuadorian flag on his head just before facing the first and only fighter from the country to compete in the UFC would seem like he’s playing head games. But he promises that’s not the case.
“I didn’t think it would really bother him,” O’Malley told MMA Fighting. “If me changing my hair color got in his head, that might be too easy of a fight. I’m not doing it to get into his head. It’s just for fun.
“The fans love it, the media, it’s something to talk about. Last time I did it, the whole fight week was about my hair. It’s something to talk about and just showing some love.”
For his part, Vera isn’t totally convinced O’Malley is actually sporting the flag representing Ecuador because a lot of Latin American countries have a similar color scheme.
“That’s a good question that a lot of people ask me but I don’t really know. It could be Venezuela, it could be Colombia, it could be Ecuador,” Vera said with a smile. “It don’t have the logo in that. I don’t know which country he dyed his hair but good for him.
“I have yellow or blonde hair, so I’m supporting all the yellow flags out there. Good for him. We’re free to do whatever the f**k we want. That’s why we pick this sport cause it’s not like a regular job that somebody tells you what to do or when to do it. Good for him.”
Whether O’Malley dyed his hair as an attempt to get under Vera’s skin or not, the former Ultimate Fighter: Latin America competitor isn’t losing much sleep over it. If it was an attempt to play head games ahead of their co-main event clash, Vera definitely isn’t bothered.
“My skin is thicker than his mom, so I’m good with that,” Vera said in response. “It’s hard to get in my mind. I was the youngest in the family, I got a lot of f**king bullies. Like my brother, everybody, so we grew up f**king a lot with each other so I’m good on that side.
“Win, lose, draw, whatever, I’m here to fight and I’m here to put on a show. Saturday night, my paycheck’s going to grow.”