Sean O’Malley is one of the fastest-rising stars in the UFC, and is already being compared to the likes of Conor McGregor and Israel Adesanya.
He does not object to those comparisons.
Ahead of his fight with Marlon “Chito” Vera, which co-headlines the UFC 252 card this Saturday, O’Malley was asked which fighters he seeks to emulate as he continues his rise toward the top of the bantamweight division.
He quickly pointed to McGregor, the former featherweight and lightweight champion; and Adesanya, the reigning middleweight champion.
“I think obviously Conor’s career went well,” O’Malley said during Wednesday’s UFC 252 virtual media day (via MMA Junkie). “Israel Adesanya’s career went well and I feel like I want a similar career like that.
“(McGregor and I are) pretty similar in fighting styles. We knock people out in the first round. We’re not afraid to say how the fight will play out.”
O’Malley is already one of the most popular fighters on the UFC roster, with over a million Instagram follows to his name despite his relative inexperience. If he defeats Vera at UFC 252, he could take another huge leap toward superstar status, and he recognizes that.
He believes if he wins convincingly enough, he’ll be able to get any opponent he wants next.
“I think it totally depends how I go out there and finish ‘Chito,’” O’Malley said. “If I win a decision I don’t get that big, big next fight name. I could, because if I win a decision it will be a very impressive decision. But if I starch him I think I will get whoever I want.”
Vera has been fighting for the UFC since 2014, and has shared the Octagon with some of the best bantamweights in the world. Despite his big-stage experience and the talent of his rivals, he’s yet to be finished as a pro fighter.
O’Malley is optimistic he can be the first man to finish the Ecuadorian talent.
“He’s in the UFC, he’s tough, he’s beat people in the UFC, he’s finished people in the UFC and he’s never been finished,” O’Malley said. “All around it’s a tough fight. He’s my toughest opponent to date and with that said, I’ll probably still drop him in the first round.”
Do you think Sean O’Malley can follow in the footsteps of Conor McGregor and Israel Adesanya by scoring a big stoppage win this weekend?