While he’s since claimed the result as a victory and is now looking ahead to a blockbuster showdown with #1-ranked contender Petr Yan at UFC 280, O’Malley’s International Fight Week appearance certainly didn’t go to plan, both in terms of the fight and what happened next.
After an unintentional eye poke resulted in his main-card opener versus Pedro Munhoz being declared a no contest, a disheartened and disappointed O’Malley was met with a figure he no doubt could have done without — a “King of Cringe” who was in the mood for some mischief.
While Cejudo lightly berated “Sugar” after interrupting his interview with BT Sport, suggesting that he ‘sucks’, among other things, O’Malley mostly chose to ignore the presence of “Triple C,” who was quickly whisked away.
During a sit-down interview with BT Sport’s Adam Catterall in London last month, O’Malley reflected on the incident, admitting that he was caught off guard by the interaction and should have handled it differently.
“Looking back on it, I definitely — you know, it caught me off guard, for sure,” O’Malley said. “I was on the verge of — right after that fight, I was just so emotional. I put so much into that fight, and it ended like that. I didn’t wanna do any interviews. I didn’t wanna talk to anybody. Then I get this fat little dude just chirping at me. I handled it wrong. I should’ve went up and slapped him, is what I should’ve done.”
That sentiment has been shared by his division’s champion, who believes that O’Malley was “punked” by Cejudo on July 2.
Sterling: O’Malley Didn’t Know What To Do
During a recent appearance on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, reigning 135-pound king Aljamain Sterling spoke about the current landscape of his division, and the possible presence of a returning Cejudo down the line.
After noting that it’s hard to take “Triple C” serious until he commits to a return, Sterling acknowledged the former champ-champ’s exchange with O’Malley at UFC 276, concluding that the Montana native was left “stuck” by what to say.
“He kinda punked O’Malley. O’Malley was just like, cat got his tongue. He didn’t even know what to say,” Sterling said. “Was kinda like, ‘Are you for real?’ Dude, he kinda just walked up on your sh*t and you didn’t even know what to do, what to say; you kinda just stuck.”
Both Sterling and O’Malley are set to return to action in the heat of Abu Dhabi on October 22. While the champ will be defending his belt against former divisional kingpin TJ Dillashaw, “Sugar” will have Sterling’s two-time opponent Yan to deal with.
Perhaps with victories for both men, they’ll set up an inevitable clash down the line.
What did you make of Sean O’Malley and Henry Cejudo’s backstage interaction at UFC 276?