Sean O’Malley — I am the ‘unranked champ’ of the UFC


Prefer it or not, UFC bantamweight Sean O’Malley is on the brief record of potential stars in blended martial arts. And for the file, there are loads on the market who don’t prefer it.

O’Malley (14-1) has been a polarizing determine since he signed with the UFC off Dana White’s Contender Sequence in 2017. He’s 6-1 contained in the Octagon — together with 4 finishes — however he has taken some criticism concerning the extent of his competitors. O’Malley, 27, has by no means overwhelmed anybody ranked contained in the UFC’s high 15.

O’Malley, who faces Raulian Paiva at UFC 269 on Saturday (10 p.m., ESPN+ PPV), has responded to any remarks a few padded file by trolling his critics. He lately launched merchandise that dubbed him the “Unranked Champ.” He is additionally dropped merchandise previously that boasts of his “undefeated” file, as he feels a freak damage was behind his only loss, a first-round TKO by Marlon Vera in August 2020 after a kick numbed O’Malley’s decrease leg and rendered him defenseless.

Heading into his eighth UFC look, O’Malley spoke to ESPN in regards to the which means behind “Unranked Champ,” the stress of famous person expectations and this weekend’s battle.

Editor’s observe: Responses have been edited for readability and brevity

On being unranked and ‘undefeated’

The UFC rankings have all the time been one thing not tremendous essential to me. So, the merchandise says “Unranked Champ 15” as a result of that is my 15th battle and I am about to be 15-0. That battle towards Vera, I do not really feel like I misplaced as a result of his abilities have been higher. I do not suppose he actually, actually thinks he received the battle, both, the best way it performed out. It was so uncommon. Have a look at what number of occasions I have been kicked in different fights; you don’t see my whole leg go numb the way it did against him. Mentally, I do not really feel that I misplaced. If Vera goes out in a rematch and beats me in a choice or finishes me truthful and sq., I will haven’t any subject saying I misplaced.

I lose in sparring, I lose in grappling. I am not nervous about shedding. I simply do not feel like I misplaced that battle, and lots of people hate that I say that.

On what makes him ‘the individuals’s champ’

Petr Yan is the champ proper now. He is overwhelmed the individuals he must beat to be the champ within the UFC. However I really feel I am the individuals’s champ. I’ve extra eyeballs on me than anybody else within the bantamweight division. That is what I take into account “the champ.” I am probably the most entertaining. Individuals care about me probably the most. That is what “the champ” is to me.

Editor’s observe: Yan is definitely an interim champ, with Aljamain Sterling holding the true belt. However Yan managed their 2020 title bout earlier than shedding his belt to Sterling by disqualification.

On why he’ll really feel no stress Saturday

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Sean O’Malley displays on his time away from preventing and the way it has helped him develop as an individual. Order UFC 248 right here on ESPN+ espn.com/ppv.

I’ll go on the market and battle Paiva, a harmful opponent, one of many more durable guys I’ve fought, for positive — but it surely does not matter. I will end him, and that is what is meant to occur. It is the Suga Present. I am presupposed to exit and end him.

I’ve realized rather a lot, via being within the UFC since I used to be 22, largely to not care what individuals suppose. I have been very energetic on social media, and you may’t care what individuals suppose.

If I’m going on the market and lose to Paiva, I’ve nonetheless obtained my home that is nearly paid off. I’ve obtained my different home. I’ve nonetheless obtained my household, associates. My life remains to be good, win or lose. So it does not matter to my happiness. I do not actually put that further stress of, “I gotta win this battle or individuals are going to suppose I suck.” I do not care, you understand what I imply?

I do not actually really feel stress and I do not actually get nervous earlier than fights. I need my profession to be superfights. I need each one in every of my fights to be a foremost occasion pay-per-view, pushing a million buys. And that comes with knocking individuals out and doing what I do. I am getting there slowly. I simply turned 27 years previous, and I am constructing the megafights. I need to battle twice a 12 months, enormous fights. That is what I need to do, and I am on an excellent development in direction of that.

2020 to 2030 goes to be my entire period. It is the Suga Period. 2020 was a incredible 12 months for me. 2021 has been superb. 2022, I see myself getting again in there throughout the first quarter and simply persevering with to do what I am doing. You possibly can’t look too far forward on this sport. I realized that within the Vera battle. I already had large plans going into that one. I did not plan on my peroneal nerve getting tapped and my foot going fully numb. I’ve realized to form of pull again from trying too far forward.

On the battle he most needs

I need to battle Petr Yan. I do know he is the champ and it’s a must to beat sure individuals to get that battle, however that is a battle I need ultimately. Even when he isn’t the champ, that is a battle I need. I feel he is the most effective pound-for-pound, top-three fighters on the earth. I really like his model, his boxing, the best way he switches stances, covers up, his protection. He is simply so good. Each time he will get in there, it is spectacular.

I like his humor, too. Clearly there is a language barrier, however I get pleasure from his comedy on Twitter. He calls me a poodle. I discover him very humorous.

What’s subsequent after Saturday

If I needed to say what’s subsequent, most likely I will get one other battle in March. Whether or not it is high 15, high 10, not ranked, I really do not care. I really like going on the market and performing. Performing is what I really like probably the most, going on the market reside, T-Cellular Area, screaming followers, tens of millions of individuals watching reside. That is what I really like. So long as I can go in there and battle, it does not matter who it’s.



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