EXCLUSIVE | PFL champ Sean O’Connell shares wise advice for next generation of fighters

Sean O'Connell
Image: Professional Fighters League

On New Years Eve, Sean O’Connell thumped Vinny Magalhaes to a corner stoppage, winning the Professional Fighters League (PFL) light heavyweight belt and a $1,000,000 prize in the process. In the moments after this life-changing win, the ever-entertaining veteran announced his retirement from MMA competition.

At the end of his incredible fighting career, which unfurled in the UFC and PFL cages and carried him all over the world, Sean O’Connell has plenty of advice for the next generation of fighters.

He shared that advice in a recent interview with BJPenn.com.

“Don’t copy other people,” O’Connell said when asked what wisdom he’d like to share with younger fighters. “Don’t try be somebody else. Don’t play the game you think you have to play. Be yourself and work your ass off. That’s really the only thing that’s going to get you anywhere. You’ve got to be fearless in this sport, and you’ve got to work your ass off. Be yourself, work harder than you think you can work, and don’t copy other people.”

Sean O’Connell also advised all fighters to consider moving to the PFL — an organization he says has changed his life.

“I really hope exciting, entertaining fighters flock to the PFL and that their fans follow them,” he said. “The UFC is great, the UFC treated me very well, but not nearly as well as the PFL did. They didn’t offer me the same opportunities that the PFL has, and other fighters are going to experience the same thing. Some people are at home in the UFC, and they do great there, and that’s wonderful, there should be healthy competition. But for people who are looking for another avenue, an opportunity to make more money and be built up as a featured fighter, as a star, and it’s not happening for you in Bellator or the UFC or Rizin or wherever, maybe it’s time to explore what the PFL has to offer, because they treated us all so, so well.”

“They absolutely have changed my life, and the opportunities are going to continue to change my life,” he added. “They’ve done great things for all of us, and not just the champions. They paid very well, they paid everyone who made it to the quarter finals, they paid them all very well.

“Again, I want people to pay attention. Everyone complains about fighters being underpaid — well, support the organizations that don’t underpay the fighters.”

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 1/6/2019.