Sean O’Malley sealed the biggest victory of his career when he sealed a split decision win against Petr Yan at UFC 280.
Despite the result being hotly-debated, the outcome sent ‘Sugar’ flying up the rankings as he usurped the Russian and slotted into the #1-contender spot. That should have been enough to guarantee the 28-year-old the next title shot right away. However, it seems the UFC are looking to give former champion Henry Cejudo the first crack at Aljamian Sterling. ‘Triple C’ retired in 2020 but it was announced in May that he’d re-entered the USADA testing pool with a view to competing late this year.
With the UFC yet to officially confirm a date for the Sterling-Cejudo clash, O’Malley has been left in limbo and he’s not happy.
Speaking on the TimboSugarShow podcast, he said,
“It drives me crazy. Why is this not happening? I don’t think it’s a money thing. The UFC would say ‘all right, next guy.’ Henry literally retired because he wasn’t getting paid enough and now he’s broke and wants to come back. He’s coming back to make the same amount. Aljo’s not going to get paid more. He’s not a draw. That’s just facts,” O’Malley explained, before adding, “That’s not me throwing shots. Aljo would say the same thing. He’s like ‘yeah, I’m not a draw, I don’t have fans.’ He knows. Everyone knows. Is it a weight thing? Is it an injury lingering? What is it? I’ve got to get to the bottom of this. I’m hiring a private investigator to follow them both around.”
O’Malley has said in interviews that he’s focussed primarily on his grabbling in the wake of his win over Yan. The strategy makes sense with both Cejudo and Sterling known for being wizards on the ground. The LFA veteran is renowned more for his striking, and in being able to hang with an elite boxer like Yan, O’Malley showed that he’s one of the best in the division.
The Arizona-native has made no secret of his desire to be the next Conor McGregor. So far, so good for the flamboyant bantamweight. He has more than 2.8 million followers on Instagram and is one of the biggest draws in the UFC. If he manages to put a UFC belt around his waist next year, he will no doubt solidify his spot as one of the biggest stars in combat sports.
Do you think O’Malley will beat the winner of Cejudo vs Sterling?