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Sean O’Malley rejects fight proposal from Cody Garbrandt: ‘You wonder if that’s CTE’

O’Malley would rather a fight against anyone else right now.

Sean O’Malley after beating Raulian Paiva at UFC 269.
Sean O’Malley after beating Raulian Paiva at UFC 269.
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Sean O’Malley is not fighting Cody Garbrandt.

The No. 12 ranked bantamweight was previously interested in Garbrandt, but changed his tune considering how the former champion has fared in recent appearances. Garbrandt has been stopped in four of his past six fights, which includes a spoiled flyweight debut courtesy of Kai Kara-France at UFC 269 in December. Despite the first-round knockout, ‘No Love’ has said that he is still open to competing at flyweight, but would return to bantamweight for a fight against O’Malley.

Garbrandt and O’Malley were involved in a tense moment at the pre-fight press conference for UFC 269, where both men were separated by security before anything physical could happen. The main reason that Garbrandt wants a fight with O’Malley is because he says he could “whoop his ass” if given the opportunity, but ‘Sugar’ just shut that down.

On an episode of his TimboSugarShow podcast, O’Malley rejected the fight proposal and wondered if it was prompted by Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), which he believes Garbrandt may be suffering from.

“Dude, Cody’s not getting that fight,” said O’Malley. “When he said it, you could see it in his voice. He’s like, ‘Oh, I want…’ but that fight’s not happening. It doesn’t make sense for him to say that. You wonder if that’s CTE. He’s been knocked out five times in the last two years. That fight’s not happening, at least not next. It just doesn’t make sense, dude. It literally just doesn’t make sense. If you look at his record. No, that’s not next.

“You’re telling me that makes sense? Knockout, knockout, knockout,” continued O’Malley.

O’Malley admitted that while a fight between him and Garbrandt would be entertaining, it does nothing to move his career forward. He also explained the upside and downside of fighting the 30-year-old now.

“I go out there and knock out Cody, it’s like he’s 1-8. I lose to Cody, I lose to someone who’s looked at as kind of who sucks now.”

O’Malley finished 2021 with knockouts of Thomas Almeida, Kris Moutinho and Raulian Paiva. With Garbrandt out, the Contender Series alum expects to fight opposite of a fellow ranked contender in his next outing.