It’s been just over a month since Sean O’Malley became the UFC bantamweight champion and “Sugar” already wants to get back to work.
The 28-year-old took some time to heal up and celebrate his knockout victory over Aljamain Sterling at UFC 292 in Boston, but capturing the title didn’t change the way that O’Malley wants to operate.
O’Malley wants to be active, be in big fights, and do big business. And he sees all of those things happening very soon.
“I know exactly who, when, and where, but I got to play dumb,” O’Malley told UFC.com. “I know exactly what’s going on because, but I know the UFC is smart business and I know Dana White wants to wait and that’s what we’ll do.”
“I want big fights. I want big PPVs. I remember saying this before being on the Contender Series. I want to break records and do massive PPVs; that’s what I still crave.”
There’s proof that O’Malley has the star power to pull those type of numbers and to truly elevate him to one of the biggest combat sports athletes on the planet.
O’Malley’s knockout win over Sterling was posted on ESPN and UFC platforms right after the fight, which is a very rare occurrence. The clip has gone viral, with almost 10 million views on UFC’s YouTube channel alone.
“That was really cool; I wasn’t expecting that, obviously,” O’Malley said. “They understand the game. It was a beautiful finish, and it wasn’t that controversial. It was a clean finish, and it was a massive moment.”
O’Malley feels like winning the belt made the division “way more” interesting, and that it opened up plenty of options for fights the fans would love to see.
When asked about the pros and cons of potential opponents, O’Malley wasn’t shy on offering his opinion on any of the top contenders.
“A rematch with Aljamain would get some attention, but I just finished him in two rounds and non-controversially,” O’Malley started. “I know fans want to see me fight Cory Sandhagen, but he’s injured. Merab Dvalishvili is probably the most deserving guy but it’s not just about that in this sport. He’s boring. And then there’s Chito [Marlon Vera]. It’s the biggest fight to make in the division.”
One of the major benefits of being the champion is calling the shots. O’Malley knows he sits at the top, and although it’s a great feeling, he’s not going to let that get to his head too much.
“This high, this position, doesn’t last forever,” O’Malley said. “In 10 years, hopefully what I’ve done leaves an awesome legacy, but I try not to let the wins get me too high on life. I’ve learned that through experiences I’ve gone through, and that helps me stay grounded and in the moment.”
Sean O'Malley | Greatest Hits
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Sean O'Malley | Greatest Hits
That mentality is exactly why O’Malley is locked in on getting back into training camp and preparing for his first title defense.
It doesn’t matter who his opponent will be, the date, or the location. All that matters is that he gets to express himself in the Octagon and remain authentic to himself.
“I can’t wait for this next one. I think this next fight will be different in some ways, but I can’t wait,” O’Malley said. “I’m really riding a wave right now.”