Ever since first arriving in the UFC, Sean OMalley has been viewed as a future superstar for the promotion. But just because hes a little loud as he enjoys some flash and flare inside and outside of the cage doesnt mean hes mimicking Conor McGregor.
As he prepares to share a card with the former two-division champion at UFC 264 on Saturday night, OMalley said hes definitely found inspiration in the Irishmans rise to fame. But he is quick to dispel any claims hes trying to be a McGregor clone rather than forging his own path.
I think the first time I watched him fight was against Max Holloway, OMalley said during the UFC 264 media day. Theres just something about him like, damn, I want to watch him fight again, I want to continue to watch. Ive watched every single interview hes ever done. Ive watched all of his fights, multiple times. I love the way he carries himself.
A lot of people say that I try to be like Conor. You can have two people that have similar personalities. [People say], Oh you try to dress like Conor, you try to fight like Conor, you try to act like Conor, talk like Conor thats not true at all. I definitely have taken bits and pieces and learned from him, which is the smart thing to do. Learn from someone who is that successful and doing that well. But yeah hes definitely inspired me a ton. The way he carries himself. The way he handles pressure. The way he goes into these big fights. Ive learned a lot from him.
If theres one attribute OMalley definitely shares with McGregor its that hes become a very polarizing figure in the UFC in an extremely short amount of time. Over the course of his career with the promotion, hes been called out by seemingly half the roster competing at 135 pounds. Hes also absorbed loads of criticism for the opposition he has faced since earning his UFC contract on Dana Whites Contender Series.
None of it bothers him. He believes all the vitriol coming his way from other fighters really boils down to one thing.
[Theyre] jealous, OMalley said. I think a lot of the fighters dont get the attention I get. Im putting on beautiful performances. It comes down to the knockouts really. Going back to the Alfred [Khashakyan] knockout, even before that when I was in the UFC, when I fought David Nuzzo, that knockout went viral.
It comes down to the performances. People are attracted to that. I think it comes down to the performances and then the outfits even. Its just little things that get attention.
Even as he shares a card with McGregor, who is undoubtedly the biggest draw in the sport, OMalley feels like hes stealing a lot of the spotlight heading into Saturday night.
Despite a late change in opponents, OMalley has felt the attention for his fight as he once again looks to steal the show at UFC 264.
This is my fight, OMalley said. Even though Im fighting Kris [Moutinho], whos never been in the UFC, its still going to do huge numbers. Theres still going to be a ton of people watching this fight. A ton of people excited for this fight. I feel like my fan base is just as excited for my fight as they are the trilogy, Conor vs. Dustin [Poirier], which is insane.
I think the numbers will show that. I dont know if you can really prove that at all but if you can, I think it would show that.
As far as predictions go, OMalley expects to add another viral knockout to his resume in the matchup against Moutinho, which will probably only further frustrate the fighters who already have a distaste for him.
I dont just knock people out. I change peoples careers, OMalley said. Mentally, the way I knock people out, they step into that cage and theyre different the next time they get out there. So it could be the beginning of his career [in the UFC] or it could be the end of his career.