Sean O’Malley reflects on his growth as a fighter both mentally and physically.
One of the fastest rising stars in the UFC over the past several years is UFC bantamweight, Sean O’Malley. He came into the organization as a 22-year-old fighter with a 7-0 record and was signed off of his win on the Dana White Contender Series. O’Malley was filled with confidence and swagger. His personality paired with his interesting hair and style made him a fan favorite pretty much right off the bat. Then he continued winning. He won his first four fights in the UFC before losing to top-ranked Marlon Vera.
During his rise, O’Malley was often criticized for the level of competition he was matched with. He has only fought two ranked fighters during his UFC career so far and some people thought the UFC was spoon-feeding him. That case can no longer be made as he is set to meet number one ranked Petr Yan at UFC 280 in just a few weeks. Throughout his career, O’Malley has had to deal with the criticism of fans and trolls on the internet. He spoke a bit on his YouTube podcast called The TimboSugarShow about how he has moved past being affected by such talk.
“That’s such a mental weakness,” he said. ” If someone can say something, and it puts us and makes you feel a certain way. And I’ve been guilty of it. I’ve felt that and I’ve dealt with it. But now look back and think it’s silly. Someone’s like, ‘What the f–k? Why aren’t you training? You’re fighting Petr.’ Like no sh-t. I’m gonna beat his ass too, I’m doing what I need to do. Yeah, so it’s funny. But it is a mental weakness.”
Coming into his next fight with such a dangerous opponent, O’Malley is an underdog. Yan is a former champion and has very skilled striking. O’Malley is still heading the trolls calling for him to lose, but he has come to embrace his underdog status.
“I just like being the underdog” he said. “I like when people think I’m gonna lose. It’s different.”
O’Malley is confident in his skills and expresses that just because fans do not see the training, does not mean the work is not getting done. He is heading into UFC 280 knowing that he has what it takes to beat Yan and line himself up for a title shot.