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He’s not Chimaev - Dana White says Sean O’Malley ‘not ready’ for higher-ranked opponents

Dana White gives his reason for not moving Sean O’Malley up the competition ladder just yet.

Sean O’Malley sits onstage during the UFC 269 pre-fight presser.
Sean O’Malley sits onstage during the UFC 269 pre-fight presser.
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Sean O’Malley is one of the most notable budding superstars in the UFC today. Yet, many are criticizing “Sugar” Sean for seemingly refusing to take on higher-ranked opponents.

In an August interview after his UFC 264 win over Kris Moutinho, the self-proclaimed “unranked champadmitted to everyone’s criticisms. His reason? Money.

“For me, I have a contract to fight a certain amount of fights and I only get paid a certain amount of money whether I fight Louis Smolka, the dude I was supposed to fight, or I fight Petr Yan, the number one bantamweight in the UFC. I get paid the same.

“I’m gonna fight [the lower-ranked fighter] and I’m going to fight this dude on a Conor McGregor pay-per-view,” O’Malley said.

That is not the case, however, at least according to Dana White. In a recent interview with Barstool Sports’ Robbie Fox, the UFC president gave his reason why the 27-year-old isn’t facing someone higher ranked.

“He’s not ready. You guys wanna throw him to the wolves. You don’t move somebody that fast unless they’re Khamzat Chimaev. Khamzat is a guy you’ll feel comfortable moving that fast,” White said.

“O’Malley just lost a couple of fights ago to (Chito Vera). So, talking about bigger fights and all that shit, this is a tough fight for him on Saturday night. In his last fight, he looked incredible, he put on a clinic. I think because O’Malley’s so popular and whatever, you’re always gonna have the critics that give this kid shit.”

White says O’Malley is on the right track so far, as far as his career is concerned, and to throw him in there against “killers” isn’t how the business works.

“He’s a tough kid, he’s fun, he’s exciting to watch,” White said of O’Malley. “But he’s making his way the way you’re supposed to. You don’t just turn O’Malley around and throw him in there against killers. That’s not how it works.”

O’Malley (14-1) will take on his third fight in 2021 when he faces Raulian Paiva this weekend to open up the UFC 269 main card.