Sean O’Malley may not be ranked among the best at bantamweight, but this won’t stop him from believing he’s a champion in some aspects.
‘The Suga Show’ drops a brand new episode at UFC 269 when he faces off against formerly ranked Raulian Paiva. Ahead of opening up the pay-per-view, O’Malley is rebranding himself even more this time around. It’s not just Sean claiming he’s undefeated, despite losing once to Chito Vera back in 2020.
He is now claiming he holds two titles outside of the ‘real’ UFC Championship.
“I’m the unranked champ.” O’Malley told ESPN. “The rankings have always kind of been something not important to me. This is my 15th fight, with #15, it’s about to be 15-0.”
“I just feel like the champ when it comes to… I think Petr Yan’s the [real] champ right now. He’s beat the people he’s needed to beat, to become the champion of the UFC. I just feel like I’m the people’s champion. I think I have more eyeballs on me in the bantamweight division than anyone. That’s what I consider the champ. I’m the most entertaining, I got the most eyeballs. People care about me the most. That’s what the champ is for me.
‘All Eyes On Suga’
O’Malley’s definition of the word champion might differ from everybody else, but that doesn’t bother the young superstar. For ‘Suga’, the sweets come with the amount of views he’s been getting and it looks like business is booming.
At UFC 269, the unranked fighter will boast a main card appearance on the pay-per-view alongside stars like Dustin Poirier, Amanda Nunes and Cody Garbrandt. A spot former UFC Champion Dominick Cruz wasn’t able to get, as he’s on the prelims under O’Malley.
O’Malley also received a major spotlight at UFC 264 last July, where he fought on the main card of a grand Conor McGregor headliner.
What Undisputed Gold Would Mean To Him
Bigger fights and even more eyeballs are on the horizon for O’Malley should he win this weekend against Raulian Paiva and should his win streak get long enough, a UFC title shot potentially awaits.
“Double champ status, I guess.” O’Malley said, when asked what would winning UFC gold mean to him. “I don’t know right now. Petr’s the champ. I respect him as the bantamweight champion. He’s one of the best pound-for-pound. I think getting that fight someday is going to be sweet. There will be a legendary fight. I think it will be a huge fight.”
Don’t get O’Malley wrong, he may have championship intentions but isn’t going as far as overlooking his next opponent.
“I’m worried about the fight ahead of me every time. I’m not looking forward too far. I got Paiva on my mind right now.”
Everybody’s A Critic
O’Malley has taken a lot of criticism online for facing Raulian Paiva next. Many fans expected to face someone from the top 15, but wouldn’t get their wish as the #15 Paiva was booted from the UFC rankings a few weeks ago. The non-existent number to his opponent’s name doesn’t change anything for O’Malley. Nor does the hate from the fans. He has learned to block it out as he faces whoever the UFC puts in front of him.
“Thomas Almeida was a tough dude,” O’Malley said. “Eddie Wineland was a tough dude. Kris [Moutinho], we found out he was a really tough dude. It doesn’t really matter to me what people are saying, [that] I haven’t fought anyone.
“I could go out there and knock out Khabib and people will say, ‘yeah, but you haven’t fought Francis [Ngannou].’ It just doesn’t matter what people think. I’m going to continue to just do what I do.”