While O’Malley has appeared destined for stardom since his appearance on Dana White‘s Contender Series in 2017, Pimblett’s development from prospect to mainstream entertainer has been rapid.
Through his highly-anticipated debut, a first-round knockout over Luigi Vendramini last September, and outgoing personality, both on social media and in interviews, he’s attracted not just fans, but also a seven-figure deal with Barstool Sports.
If the Liverpudlian’s blossoming popularity wasn’t clear prior to March 19’s UFC London event, it certainly was after his raucous walkout in The O2 and following his submission of Kazula Vargas inside the opening frame.
O’Malley’s latest triumph, a first-round knockout of Raulian Paiva inside a sold-out T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, also saw a large crowd reaction. While Pimblett’s used social media and Barstool to help accentuate his stardom, “Sugar” has done so through his YouTube channel and streams on Twitch.
The pair’s parallel trajectories have seen comparisons drawn by many fans and pundits. The pair even had their own back and forth, with Pimblett suggesting O’Malley was concerned about his rising level of stardom.
But despite the comparisons, Cejudo, a former flyweight and bantamweight titleholder, has identified what makes them different.
During a recent appearance on The Schmozone podcast, “Triple C” labeled O’Malley, the current #13-ranked 135lber, as the more talented fighter. But while Cejudo believes the Montana native lacks the ability to fight through pain, he credits that as one of Pimblett’s biggest strengths.
“If you want my honest opinion, they both still have to prove themselves if you want me to credit them. I think Sean’s got more talent. But I think Paddy, Paddy the pimple face, has more grit,” assessed Cejudo. “I think if they both had a little mixture of each other, that would be the perfect combination. Because Sean needs more grit, he needs more of the ability to embrace pain. Paddy needs more technique. (He’s) super-wide with his punches. He’s kinda like a little jungle boy out there fighting.”
Cejudo On Pimblett & O’Malley: “They’re Just Entertainers”
Cejudo went on to suggest he’s looking at much more than just the pair’s popularity when assessing them as fighters. With that in mind, he doesn’t currently see either Pimblett or O’Malley as anything more than entertainers.
“They’re good. When you talk about stars, you just talk about popularity. Me, as a fighter, bro, I’m looking at every angle man,” said Cejudo. “Yeah, you can entertain, but can you really fight? Can you go up against the best in the world? Can you prove me wrong and fight where I really think you’re gonna get beat up? When I see that, that’s when you really own the Triple C respect. As of right now, they’re just entertainers.”
While Pimblett still has a long way to go before proving himself at the top of the lightweight division, with the man himself expecting three to four more unranked opponents in the UFC, O’Malley isn’t too far away.
Following three wins from three fights in 2021, a record that included a trio of finishes and bonuses, “Sugar” broke into the bantamweight top 15. With the likes of Pedro Munhoz now in his crosshairs, O’Malley’s next outing will give him the chance to join the elite at 135 pounds.
Do you agree with Henry Cejudo’s assessment of Paddy Pimblett and Sean O’Malley?