Why Sean O’Malley decided against backup role for Aljamain Sterling vs. Henry Cejudo at UFC 288
Sean O'Malley won’t be the backup for the UFC 288 title fight, even if he had received an offer.
O’Malley both contemplated serving as the backup for bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling’s (22-3 MMA, 14-3 UFC) title defense against Henry Cejudo (16-2 MMA, 10-2 UFC) in the UFC 288 headliner on May 6, and jumping in as a replacement if someone withdrew earlier.
But after some thought, O’Malley (16-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) doesn’t like the idea of not being guaranteed to fight.
“I was really planning on being backup for Henry-Aljo,” O’Malley said on his Timbo Sugar Show podcast. “It is so hard. Dude, go and do a camp, five fives, planning on a fight, is hard enough to do knowing you have a fight. But knowing you’re probably not going to fight? I can’t train the same way. I don’t feel like I’m in a position to where I’m like, ‘Well, it’s my only opportunity to be a backup.’
“I was trying, but now I’m at the point where I’m like, f*ck that. One of those dorks pulls out, reschedule it. I need a real eight weeks where I know I’m fighting. It’s too hard to be that disciplined. You can’t be that disciplined all the time. … They’re five weeks out. If I got the call, I’m not ready to do five f*cking fives. I haven’t been doing every possible thing that I could be doing, so I’m pulling out from backup fighter.”
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O’Malley was declared the No. 1 contender after edging out former champ Petr Yan at UFC 280 last October. Both Sterling and Cejudo have shown interest in fighting O’Malley next, labeling him as a lucrative money fight.
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 288.