Sean O’Malley isn’t trying to split up his paychecks.
O’Malley is one of the brightest young stars in the UFC, having built a brand not only as a fighter but also as a podcaster, YouTuber, and streamer. With so many different revenue streams, one might expect O’Malley to have a team of managers supporting him, however, “Suga” recently revealed he handles all of the business aspects of his career on his own.
“I am my management,” O’Malley explained this week on The MMA Hour. “Solo dolo. No middleman, no one taking a random percentage for being a middleman. I do all my own deals and s*** gets done right.”
O’Malley is not the only fighter who has decided to take care of business themselves. Former UFC interim welterweight champion Colby Covington left his management team and negotiated his recent fight with Jorge Masvidal on his own, and an increasing number of fighters are making the decision to handle negotiations on their own. For O’Malley, it was a simple economic choice: Why pay someone a percentage for not doing anything?
“Say UFC gets a sponsorship deal, and whoever handles that at the UFC, they’re like, ‘The UFC wants Sean O’Malley, I’m going to go to his management,’ and then their management takes 20 percent, 15 percent, whatever, just to tell me about the deal,” O’Malley said. “Not to do anything, just to say, ‘Hey, the UFC called, you want this deal?’ Sure. It’s the same thing with fight money too. You want 15 percent of my money because you did what? No, that ain’t happening. Oh, you want some of the bonus too? That ain’t happening.
“I personally enjoy doing all the business side of things. There are some fighters who are probably like, ‘F*** that, I don’t even want to look at that stuff. You take care of it and I’ll give you the percentage.’ There’s people like that. Cool. I like to be a part of my deal. I like to be directly in communication with all my brand deals, the UFC specifically, everyone. I don’t want any miscommunication. That always seems to happen when there’s an extra voice in the middle and it’s just not necessary, at least for me.
“I don’t want to talk for everyone,” O’Malley continued, “but it’s nice getting that check and it’s not — you [don’t] have to write your 15 percent. I pay the coaches, I pay [my people]. I don’t want to have to write a check to a management team for really not doing much.”
Thus far it seems like being his own manager is working out for O’Malley. Despite coming off a no contest against Pedro Munhoz earlier this month, “Suga” is set to face former UFC bantamweight champion Petr Yan in a featured main card bout at UFC 280. It’s a big step up for a fighter who has yet to earn a top-10 win inside the UFC, especially for one who previously had friction with the UFC matchmakers.
O’Malley attributes this turnaround to a change in his own perspective, which allowed him to take a more pragmatic view towards the UFC.
“I’d say I’m happy with where I’m at in the UFC, with how I’m being paid, how I’m being treated,” O’Malley said. “I’m definitely happy. It’s just really been a perspective change, looking at the UFC as more of a platform for me to sell merch, to do all this stuff. It really helped my perspective and the relationship I have with the UFC looking at it that way. That I’m going to take advantage of these opportunities.
“I’m not getting paid more now that I’m fighting Petr. ... I didn’t ask for more money. I’m fighting the No. 1 guy. I’m just going to go out there and take advantage of the opportunity, and that is to fight Petr. I’m lucky to be able to be in this position to be healthy, to be 27, going into my prime, fighting these top-level guys, and I’m going to take advantage of that.”
UFC 280 takes place Oct. 22 at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi.