Later this month, O’Malley will have a massive opportunity to advance his ambitions on MMA’s biggest stage.
In 2021, the Montana native recorded three consecutive knockout wins, earning himself a trio of $50,000 bonuses in the process. While that form landed him at #13 in the 135-pound rankings and secured him his first ranked opponent in Pedro Munhoz, the bout didn’t go to plan. An eye poke from O’Malley resulted in a no contest, which at the time appeared to stall O’Malley’s rise.
As it turns out, that wasn’t the case, with O’Malley’s next fight being confirmed to come against former champion and current #1-ranked contender Petr Yan.
The pair, who have long interacted and exchanged jibes on social media, will collide on the main card of a stacked UFC 280 pay-per-view, set to go down in Abu Dhabi on October 22.
As a rising star, O’Malley is subject to the usual cascade of doubts from some corners of the MMA fanbase — even more so given his often-expressed confidence and high ambitions. More often that not, that leads to many wishing for his downfall whenever he steps inside the Octagon.
This time, though, he expects all fans to have a different attitude towards “The Sugar Show.”
O’Malley: Fans Want A New Superstar
During a recent appearance on ESPN MMA’s DC & RC show, O’Malley discussed his upcoming trip to Abu Dhabi, which could see him return to US soil within touching distance of a shot at the bantamweight belt.
“Sugar” acknowledged that many in the community see him facing an uphill battle when he shares the Octagon with Yan, who appeared somewhat unstoppable before losing the belt via disqualification last March, and who has been an unsolvable puzzle on the feet.
However, while his detractors may be doubting his chances come October 22, O’Malley has no doubt about who they ultimately want to see have their hand raised inside the cage.
“Usually, I’d say people are hoping I don’t win. But to be honest, I would say the majority of people that think I won’t win, actually want me to win,” O’Malley said. “People want a superstar. There’s really no one in UFC right now that is at that Conor (McGregor) level. Me, I go out there and beat Petr in spectacular fashion, I’m climbing.
“I’m not gonna be there yet, and I know that, but I’m climbing to become that guy. I want to be that guy. I want to be the Conor McGregor. I don’t wanna be competitive to where, ‘You’re up there with this guy.’ I wanna be that guy. And I think the UFC fans want that,” O’Malley continued. “They want somebody that they can get super, super excited about. So, I think most people think I’m gonna lose, but the majority want me to go out there and win, which is pretty rare.”
O’Malley has long expressed his desire to push towards the level of stardom that former champ-champ McGregor reached through his two-division reign, even labeling the Irishman as his one inspiration in mixed martial arts.
In that respect, the #13-ranked bantamweight believes that Yan could be the José Aldo to his Conor McGregor later this month. Can O’Malley do the unthinkable and knock “No Mercy” out? Only time will tell.
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