Sean O’Malley may be the most polarizing figure in the UFC today, with the subtraction of Conor McGregor. Some fans and fighters love him, they appreciate his talent and charisma, and they want nothing more than to see him climb through the ranks of whichever division he continues to fight in. Other people can’t stand O’Malley. Whether it’s the zero loss mentality after the Chito Vera fight, or the trolling that he consistently does, they just want to see him crumble.
You can love or hate Sugar but one thing is certain, when he fights, you will watch. His superstardom is undeniable and his popularity is unquestionable.
After soundly beating the tough-as-nails New Englander Kris Moutinho, Saturday night, O’ Malley improved his UFC record to 6-1, including four finishes. At 26 years old with 1.6 million IG followers, 296k Twitter followers, and 256k YouTube followers, O’Malley’s meteoric rise has just begun. So let’s answer the question everyone’s asking, who’s next up on the Sugar Show?
The aggravation in this situation lies in the details. Fans and fighters have become annoyed with the strength of schedule O’Malley has faced up until this point in his UFC career. Can you blame the guy for taking the least threatening opponents possible in an attempt to score highlight-reel finishes to make the maximum amount of money he can? No. Can you be upset that we’ve yet to see him fight someone of his caliber or someone with a contrasting skill-set? Yes.
O’Malley has a massive ego with unrivaled confidence, but he doesn’t base his decision-making on “pride” or what we think. Unfortunately. He’s intelligent. Like Conor McGregor, O’Malley has become a business, and in all businesses, the next decision you make is always the most crucial.
The Sugar Sweepstakes has had some juicy contestants enter as of late. Fighters who I think could push O’Malley to the brink of exhaustion, where we can truly see what he has to offer. Saturday night the Montana native called upon a slew of dangerous bantamweights. In a rapid-fire post-fight speech, he mentioned Aljamain Sterling, Petr Yan, Dominick Cruz, and Rob Font. In a process of elimination, it seemed that O’Malley thought Font was the only viable matchup.
News flash, everyone wants to fight the guy above them in the rankings. No one wants to fight opponents ranked lower than they are. It’s simple math. Where this math becomes absolute rubbish is when you have a guy like O’Malley. Even without a number next to his name, a win over Sugar would boost your stock as a fighter, increase your income, and certainly add to your popularity. He’s on the verge of being the “money fight”. BUT, Sean O’ Malley is unranked, and Rob Font is the number one contender in the UFC’s bantamweight division. So as we say around New England, Sean can fuhgeddaboudit! There needs to be some order in this court.
Who’s Next For O’Malley?
I would like to see O’Malley fight someone with a contrasting skill-set. Specifically a wrestler/grappler, something the division isn’t lacking. Guys like Ricky Simon, Cody Stamann, and Merab Dvalishvili would be excellent opponents. They’re well-rounded grinders who score takedowns. Fighters who will play chess with Sugar, not checkers. Stylistically those matchups would provide O’Malley with a new test to pass.
Another couple of fights I think that would get the people going are O’Malley vs. Marlon Vera 2 and O’Malley vs. Brian Kelleher. Obviously, Chito and O’Malley have a history together and to be frank about it, Sean has done a great job not letting that history die, so let’s run it back. Then you have Boom and Sugar. Brian Kelleher said he wanted to roll O’Malley up and smoke him a year ago. So why hasn’t that happened? I think Kelleher was the perfect opponent on multiple occasions. He’s experienced, durable, can jump the guilly like no other, has good boxing, good kicks, so why not? I don’t know why, and I’m not Sean Shelby. Thankfully the UFC has done a spectacular job matchmaking this year, and I have full faith O’Malley’s next opponent will be someone of the stature and caliber we expect.
Could you imagine O’Malley vs. Davey Grant or O’Malley vs. Yadong Song? It’s unfortunate Sugar and Kyler Phillips train together because that fight would be a 15-minute highlight reel as well. The last name I will offer up is Chris Gutierrez. El Guapo usually likes to keep his fights on the feet, but one thing he possesses that would be interesting to see O’Malley defend against is devastating leg kicks.
Basically, the next episode of the Sugar Show better be a tough one to get through. I want to see O’ Malley overcome adversity. But that’s just me, one fan’s opinion.
List Of Potential Opponents:
1.) Ricky Simon
2.) Marlon Vera 2
3.) Cody Stamann
3.) Merab Dvalishvili
4.) Brian Kelleher
5.) Davey Grant
Honorable Mention = Chris Gutierrez