While Sean O’Malley’s recent comments about facing lower ranked opposition have been the major narrative in the news these past few days, just a couple weeks ago he was highlighting an entirely different part of his fight booking experience with the UFC.
On an episode of his BrO’Malley web show, the bantamweight Contender Series alumni shed some light on an interaction he had with UFC matchmakers over a planned fight booking on the promotion’s upcoming UFC 268 PPV. With the event planned to take place in New York, NY, O’Malley made it clear that he wanted nothing to do with the state’s high tax rate and necessary travel arrangements. A decision on his part that the 26-year-old claims was not well received by UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby.
“Sean Shelby was just like, mad,” O’Malley recounted, “and like, ‘Fine. Go hang out with 6ix9ine’. Like, just acting like a f**king tool, dude. So, I don’t know if I should’ve said that or not. But it’s like, dude, come on. What do you do?”
UFC matchmaking being notably abrasive with talent is nothing new. Long before Sean Shelby even came to the promotion from World Extreme Cagefighting, UFC matchmaker Joe Silva had carved out a well known reputation for being uncompromising in his dealings with fighters. Talent either did things his way, at his rates, or they found themselves getting more and more difficult bookings further and further down cards.
Perhaps it’s that kind of history that has former UFC talent and current popular podcast host Brendan Schaub speaking on O’Malley’s behalf. On a recent episode of his Below the Belt podcast Schaub couldn’t agree more with the idea of avoiding taking a fight in New York whenever possible.
“I’m with [O’Malley] though,” Schaub said, speaking to the fighter’s disagreements with the UFC (transcript via MMA Weekly). “F–k fighting in New York, with the taxes, flying out there, his coach isn’t there. Who cares if he fights a month later? It’s Vegas. Be cool, UFC,” Schaub said. “The UFC has to do a better job of not treating their employees like they work for f—–g Apple. This isn’t some China, China slave factory. Like, treat them like human beings, it’s going to go so much further for everybody involved. Just be cool.
“Like why not be like ‘Hey Sean, we want you to fight.’ ‘Ah, my coach isn’t going to be there and I don’t wanna pay the taxes in New York. Can I just fight on the next card?’ ‘Yeah, we’ll get you an opponent, no problem.’ Click. Move on to the next guy. I’m with ‘Suga’ on this. Don’t treat him like s–t, man. There’s just no need for it.”
Currently the UFC is in talks to try and put together a bout between O’Malley and former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar. That fight reportedly would, once again, be planned for Madison Square Garden, at UFC 268, on November 6th. If O’Malley sticks to his guns, it seems unlikely that the bout will come together, especially considering his stated aversion to taking on ranked opponents.
O’Malley is currently riding a two fight win streak, with TKOs over Kris Moutinho and Thomas Almeida. Those victories have provided a strong return to form following ‘Sugar’ Sean’s loss to Marlon Vera in the co-main event of UFC 252 last August.