Sean O’Malley: Life in the UFC Since Going Viral

Sean O’Malley has turned heads in the MMA world following his appearance in Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series (DWTNCS). FO’s Tony Reid spoke to the bantamweight prospect to find out how life has changed since becoming a fully-fledged UFC fighter.

You picked up a win in your first ‘official’ UFC fight against Terrion Ware at the TUF 26 Finale. How was that experience?

Yeah quote un quote first win. I like that. I feel like the kid I fought on the Contender Series was UFC caliber, so I feel like I’m 2-0 in the UFC. I didn’t get the finish. I really, really wanted the finish. That is not sitting right with me. I know I won the fight and I am happy about that but I am not satisfied. I did gain a lot of experience. I pushed myself mentally and physically. Everyone got to see my whole game. I was wrestling. I was using Jiu Jitsu. I was striking. That was a good one. I learned a lot about myself. I am going to learn and grow from it. It was a really fun night.

How did the experience of fighting on DWTNCS differ to the UFC proper?

Going into that (DWTNCS) fight I had a really bad training camp. I had a concussion. I probably shouldn’t have fought. I knew it was a really big opportunity. I didn’t spar that entire camp. I was just doing what I could do that day. I would wake up and see how I felt and do what I could. I went into that fight knowing that it was a fight and that anything could happen. I was confident. I went in there and got the job done. The kid was 8-3 with 8 TKOs. I feel like that was a UFC win.

After those two wins, what’s next on the agenda for Sean O’Malley?

Right now my hands hurt a little bit. I hit that kid (Ware) about 400 times in the head. My hands are sore and bruised. It’s hard not to train. I flew out to Fresno to see my buddy Scott Holztman and Luke Sanders. I flew out there to not train. I stayed away from the gym so I wouldn’t tear up my body and so I would heal up. I want the next episode of the Sugar Show to be in Las Vegas. I really like the UFC performance center and everything else they have going out there. It’s only a four-hour drive from home, so I can take my own vehicle. I really like it out there.

Snoop Dogg became a big fan of yours following that win at DWTNCS. What was that attention like?

I remember saying in a bunch of interviews what I wanted to Snoop Dogg to want to meet me. After the fight I said ‘Shout out to Snoop.’ Looking back at the replay he said he wanted to meet me. That was super cool. I got to meet him and hang out with him in his trailer. It was something I will remember forever, for sure. It was a good memory.

What was the response to your DWTNCS victory like on social media?

I haven’t turned the notifications back on. After the contender’s series fight it was crazy. After this fight I got about 3,000 followers in five days. That was amazing. I still have a ton of messages. I am reading all the messages from the fans. I saw Matt Serra here in Fresno. He saw the fight and knew who I was. Joe Rogan added me on Twitter. All of these guys I have looked up to and heard of, it’s been cool. Rosie O’Donnell said on the UFC’s page that I was fun to watch.

I want to bring a new level of excitement to the UFC. I want to make people feel a way that they aren’t used to feeling. I want them to be more entertained. I want them to be exacted for my fights. If they see me on the card I want them to want to see my fight.

Who were your favorite fighters growing up?

I didn’t really start watching MMA until I moved to Phoenix when I was 19. Someone I really like watching is Cub Swanson. I love his style. He fights like a gangster. I really enjoy watching him and fighters with his style.

What about Francis Ngannou? We saw you had a picture taken together at the UFC Performance Institute.

I got a picture with him and asked for a face off. He didn’t seem too happy about it. I asked for a picture and he was grumbling. I was like ‘Oh, shit.’ We got one but it seemed like he didn’t really want to.

You exude confidence inside and outside the cage. Where did your mindset originate and has it been developed over time?

I played sports my whole life. I played Football, Basketball, Baseball and Soccer. I never fought until I was 16. I was the little guy. I never got the playing time or recognition I wanted. I always knew I was going to be something. In the sixth grade I wanted to be in the NFL. That wasn’t realistic. I wanted to be something big. When I went to my first boxing class I knew that was it. I had a different style from anyone else without trying. I was fast. I picked things up fast. People enjoyed watching me fight even at 16. I was boxing and kickboxing. The crowds were wild. I gained confidence from that. I had over 20 amateur fights in Montana. I knew that how I was going to be something. And then watching Conor blow up, that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to be that guy that blew up. He blew up and now he is just giving me something even higher to aim for. Conor fought Floyd. I want to be in the biggest fight ever someday. I’m only 23. I have a lot of years left for that to happen. I won’t be in my prime until I’m 30. I have to keep building my skills and training. That will happen. I know it will.

Jake Hughes

Jake Hughes

Jake Hughes is an MMA writer who has covered the sport since 2013 for publications such as Vice Sports, Fightland, Sherdog and now Fighters Only, where he serves as freelance digital editor.