Sean O’Malley Chooses Not To Serve As The Backup For Aljamain Sterling vs. Henry Cejudo

Sean O'Malley is no longer interested in serving as the backup for the upcoming title fight between Aljamain Sterling and Henry Cejudo.

O'Malley Sterling
Credit O'Malley, Sterling, and Cejudo on Instagram

Sean O’Malley will not be on hand at UFC 288 to act as the backup fighter.

There is a bantamweight title bout on deck for UFC 288 in May between champion Aljamain Sterling and former champ Henry Cejudo. Sterling has been holding the strap since 2021 and has defended it twice. After his last title defense against TJ Dillashaw, many thought he would be on a crash course with Sean O’Malley who defeated Petr Yan that same night. O’Malley skyrocketed to the number one contender position but the UFC had other plans. 

Cejudo retired back in 2020 but has now announced his return. Due to his past success in the Octagon, the UFC has rushed him to the front of the line with a bout against Sterling. This left O’Malley waiting for his turn. He is most likely next but was toying with the idea of acting as the backup. He no longer has that plan. 

Sean O’Malley does not want to go through a training camp just to be a backup 

Many times when there is a title on the line, the UFC will pay a fighter to cut weight and be the backup. This way if one fighter cannot compete for any reason the title fight will go on. O’Malley was considering this position but now he decided against it. He explained why on his YouTube channel

“I was really planning on being the backup for Henry/Aljo,” he said. “I don’t feel like I’m in a position to where I’m like, well, it’s my only opportunity to be a backup. I was trying, but now I’m at the point where I’m like, f–k that. If one of those dorks pulls out, reschedule it. I need a real eight weeks where I know I’m fighting. It’s too hard to be that disciplined. You can’t be that disciplined all the time.”

O’Malley expressed his desire to have a full training camp if he were to take that position, which he is not doing at this time. It is possible that the UFC may get someone else to take that opportunity, but O’Malley remains confident that he will get the next title shot regardless.

“They’re five weeks out. If I got the call, I’m not ready to do five f–king fives.” he said. “I haven’t been doing every possible thing that I could be doing, so I’m pulling out from backup fighter.”

It seems unlikely that O’Malley will fight again before receiving a title shot unless something happens to bump him back. If Cejudo wins, he could easily jump in without a rematch being planned. If Sterling were to win, he has already expressed wanting to face O’Malley next. 

Published on March 29, 2023 at 2:35 pm
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