Sean O’Malley has long been touted as one of the brightest prospects in the UFC, but can The Sugar Show really live up to the hype?
Here are three reasons why Sean O’Malley is destined for UFC stardom.
#1 Sean O’Malley has a massively marketable personality
For the most part, the UFC has traditionally been able to develop two types of superstars.
The first type rises to the top with little more than their fighting skills and makes themselves a must-see fighter by their actions inside the Octagon. Former UFC champions Georges St. Pierre and Anderson Silva would be examples of this.
Sean O’Malley definitely falls into this second category.
As early as his first UFC fight, Sean O’Malley was pushed hard by the promotion due to his outspoken nature and charismatic personality.
His first UFC outing saw him beat Terrion Ware in the co-main event of the TUF 26 finale. And in his second fight – another main card opportunity, this time at UFC 222 – Sean O’Malley beat Andre Soukhamthath, only to injure his foot.
Rather than simply head for treatment after his win, though, Sean O’Malley became the first fighter to cut his post-fight promo while lying on his back in the Octagon.
In the years that have followed, Sean O’Malley has remained one of the most outspoken fighters on the UFC roster – whether that’s via his entertaining Timbo Sugarshow podcast or calling out Cody Garbrandt – a former UFC champion – after his most recent win.
It’s this unique personality that has endeared him to both fans and the UFC brass and means that he’ll be given far more chances to reach the top than a quieter fighter – even if said fighter shows more ability in the Octagon.
#2 Sean O’Malley has shown the potential to back his trash talk up inside the Octagon
Of course, no amount of personality could get Sean O’Malley to the top of the UFC if he were a below-par fighter.
Thankfully, based on the evidence we’ve seen so far, that isn’t the case.
The Sugar Show has looked fantastic in his early UFC days and definitely seems to be one of the better prospects in the UFC at 135lbs.
His early wins over Terrion Ware and Andre Soukhamthath were both impressive enough. But since his return in 2020 following a USADA suspension, he’s looked even better.
He took out Jose Quinonez in his return fight last March with a barrage of violent, perfectly-timed strikes. And his second fight of the year was even more impressive, as he sparked out former WEC champ Eddie Wineland with one punch, leaving him unconscious.
Sean O’Malley was then beaten for the first time in his UFC career by Marlon Vera at UFC 252, but even that loss came after he’d injured his leg.
And while he’s mainly showed off his striking abilities in the UFC, Sean O’Malley is an equally talented grappler, too.
He regularly competes in grappling competitions, has faced the likes of Gilbert Melendez and Takanori Gomi in this arena, and does have a win via submission on his pre-UFC ledger.
Sure, there are still plenty of questions around Sean O’Malley’s fighting ability – some that may be answered at UFC 260 when he faces Thomas Almeida. But overall, it looks like he’s a massively talented fighter.
#3 He clearly believes in his own hype
Self-belief can be a massive part of what goes into making a successful UFC fighter.
Conor McGregor, for instance, believed he was destined for super-stardom from the moment that he arrived in the UFC. And, of course, time has proven him correct.
And in the post-McGregor landscape, other stars such as Jorge Masvidal, Dustin Poirier, and Israel Adesanya all possess the same kind of swagger as the Irishman.
From the evidence we’ve seen thus far, Sean O’Malley definitely also displays that same self-confidence that can drive a fighter to the top.
For instance, how many other fighters with only a handful of UFC appearances to their name would speak out so freely against the UFC’s deal with Reebok?
Sean O’Malley did this openly in 2020, talking about his vision of starting his own merchandise line, as well as marijuana-based produce that he’s labeled The Suga Strain.
He even suggested that this could lead him to the same success that McGregor has experienced with his Proper Twelve whiskey line.
And that same self-confidence is evident in his belief in his fighting skills.
After his win over Eddie Wineland at UFC 250, O’Malley was quick to call out former UFC Bantamweight champ Cody Garbrandt, who defeated Raphael Assuncao on the same show.
Garbrandt initially seemed uninterested but was quickly drawn into a Twitter exchange with O’Malley, who continued to throw barbs his way.
And even after his loss to Marlon Vera – the kind of defeat that could easily damage or derail a hot prospect – O’Malley doesn’t seem to have lost his confidence.
In fact, according to his Twitter, he still firmly believes that he is, in fact, unbeaten.
This kind of self-confidence simply can’t be taught. And anyone willing to talk so much trash is clearly willing to put pressure on themselves to succeed inside the Octagon.
In all honesty, the last fighter we saw rising through the ranks with quite so much swagger was McGregor – and everyone knows how that ended. So there’s definitely a chance that O’Malley ascends to stardom in the UFC, emulating The Notorious One in the process.