Despite the talent that Sean O'Malley has displayed in the octagon, he has often been accused by fans and pundits alike of avoiding top-ranked opponents. Chael Sonnen has dismissed this idea, drawing parallels between 'Sugar' and Khamzat Chimaev.
'The American Gangster' revealed that O'Malley had previously expressed a significant amount of interest in fighting the biggest names in the bantamweight division.
Here's what Chael Sonnen had to say about the progression of Sean O'Malley's career in the UFC in a video on his YouTube channel:
"[Sean O'Malley] wants to fight the No. 3 guy. O'Malley wants to get in there with Petr Yan. O'Malley wants to do everything that everybody else wants to do. They've held him back. I mean the boys in the locker room; he's the Chimaev of 135lbs," exclaimed Chael Sonnen.
Catch Chael Sonnen dissecting Sean O'Malley's prospects in the UFC here:
Chael Sonnen claims Sean O'Malley faces a taller task fighting unranked fighters
As a wildly popular entity, competing against fighters in the unranked pool comes with a tremendous amount of pressure to outperform them at every stage. Chael Sonne echoed this sentiment as he opined that Sean O'Malley was forced to fight through the stress that comes with being in such a situation:
"If he's fighting the No. 5, No. 4, No. 2 guy in the world, he's the number one contender fighter; there's no pressure, nothing's expected of him, he has no ranking. The hardest thing in the world to do is what O'Malley is doing, fighting guys that the world isn't familiar with. You're going to look like a fool is you lose. It's going to stop your career in it's tracks," declared Chael Sonnen.
Some might argue that fighters in the unranked pool of the UFC's bantamweight division hardly present a challenge in comparison to those in the rankings. However, the fact remains that a loss at the hands of an unranked opponent could spell doom for the likes of Sean O'Malley.
His recent win over Raulian Paiva has earned Sean O'Malley a spot on the UFC bantamweight rankings at No. 13. Rest assured he will likely only go up from here.