Sean O’Malley wants to fight the best, but the bottom line is that right now his bank account isn’t directly affected by his choice of opponents.
The popular bantamweight discussed his matchmaking philosophy during a recent appearance on the No Jumper podcast following a lopsided victory over newcomer Kris Moutinho at UFC 264 last month. Moutinho was a last-second replacement for Louis Smolka, a more veteran opponent who may have added more credibility to O’Malley’s growing resume.
Despite those circumstances, O’Malley is still hearing it from critics who are eager to see him tested against higher-ranked opposition, but O’Malley explained that unless there’s a change in compensation then it doesn’t matter who he fights.
“Next fight, a lot of people want me to fight someone ranked,” O’Malley said (transcription via Bloody Elbow). “They wanted me to fight someone ranked last fight. I was supposed to fight Louis Smolka. For me, I have a contract to fight a certain amount of fights and I only get paid a certain amount of money whether I fight Louis Smolka, the dude I was supposed to fight, or I fight Petr Yan, the No. 1 bantamweight in the UFC.
“I get paid the same. I’m gonna fight [the lower ranked fighter] and I’m going to fight this dude on a Conor McGregor pay-per-view.”
O’Malley’s other notable wins include a third-round knockout of the slumping Thomas Almeida — was once a top bantamweight contender — and a first-round knockout of former WEC champion and one-time UFC title challenger Eddie Wineland. Turning 27 in October, O’Malley is entering his athletic prime and how he’s booked in his next few fights will go a long way towards gauging his value to the UFC.
Currently competing in arguably the deepest division in all of MMA, O’Malley has a wealth of quality opponents to face off with. Just don’t expect him to be in a rush to change up what he sees as a successful formula so far.
“Chael Sonnen always says fight the worst dude on the highest part of the card,” O’Malley said. “A lot of bantamweights, and just people in the UFC, they definitely hate [me for it]. It comes from jealousy. I’m getting way more eyeballs than them ... I perform in there. You can go and watch some of these guys perform and you literally pick up your phone, start surfing Instagram, you just don’t give a f*ck what they’re doing.”