Sean O’Malley will not be the backup fighter at UFC 288.
On May 6, the bantamweight title is reportedly up for grabs as Aljamain Sterling will take on the former champ, Henry Cejudo. It’s an intriguing matchup but it left O’Malley without a next opponent and he revealed to ESPN that he was offered the backup fighter role but decided to turn it down.
“I feel I’ll be in shape and ready if it happens,” O’Malley said to ESPN. “I’ll officially go into camp and will be sparring in the next couple weeks. I’ll pretty much do a full camp, just without a weight cut at the end. I do think they’ll both make the fight, but Aljo has that biceps injury and he’ll be grappling a lot for this fight, so I’ll be ready.”
According to Sean O’Malley, he says even though he turned down the backup role, he is next in line. The plan is to fight the winner of Sterling-Cejudo in July at International Fight Week or on the September pay-per-view in Las Vegas.
Yet, even though O’Malley turned down the backup role, he will still be training in case either Sterling or Cejudo pulls out. He believes there is a possibility that happens, but if not, he will be ready to face the winner later this year in a highly-anticipated fight. Cejudo, however, has already said he expects to face O’Malley in May, as he believes Sterling will pull out.
“Is Aljamain Sterling, is he ready? Does he really want that smoke? Because quite frankly guys, I really don’t think Aljamain Sterling wants that smoke,” Cejudo said on his YouTube channel. “So, at the same time, the only thing I could say to Sean O’Malley, stay ready, stay prepared. Obviously, I’m going to be training for Aljamain Sterling, as soon as the fight gets announced, as soon as it’s not just verbally said, but there’s a signature on there and the fight is sealed, and everything is good. But at the same time, there is that precaution that Aljamain may not show up.”
Sean O’Malley (16-1 and one No Contest) picked up the biggest win of his career last time out with a split decision win over Petr Yan. Prior to that, he had the No Contest against Pedro Munhoz. In his career, he holds notable wins over Raulian Paiva, Thomas Almeida, and Eddie Wineland among others.
Are you surprised Sean O’Malley turned down the UFC 288 backup role?