The Sugar Show returned at UFC 250 and once again Sean O’Malley made quick work of his opponent, knocking out Eddie Wineland 1:54 into the first round for his fourth win in the UFC (fifth if you count his Tuesday Night Contender win). The UFC clearly has a rising star on its hands with O’Malley but the uncomfortable question hanging in the air is whether they’ll be able to continue getting him back into the cage as his stock rises and he makes more financial demands.
Even with the UFC being the only sport in town right now, the headlines coming out right now are dominated not by the fights themselves but the battles between athletes and UFC brass over money. The UFC is (understandably, in some ways) unwilling to take the lid off fighter pay during the Coronavirus pandemic. It seems like the defining feature of this summer may be a distinct lack of big name fights on account of that. But can they come to terms with guys like O’Malley, who could become a major draw but isn’t quite there yet?
O’Malley made it clear after his win over Wineland (the last fight on his current $40k/$40k contract) that he’s looking to get paid ‘what’s fair.’
“I think our situation is a little different,” he said when asked about his pay in the cont<ext of stars like Jones and Cejudo walking away. “Those guys have had big fights and a lot of fights and big wins. I’m not asking for a lot, like literally what I was asking for was still less than everyone made tonight. I just want it to be fair.”
“I think the whole week was about the Sugar Show. I was supposed to renegotiate after the Quinonez fight, it didn’t happen. So it sucks that it even has to come up and be about money. It shouldn’t have to be, it should be fair, it should be something that we can all agree on and I definitely just want to get paid what I feel I’m worth.”
If O’Malley and the UFC are able to come to terms, he’s willing to keep on sprinting into more fights until someone touches him up enough to require a break.
“Is Fight Island going to be a thing? Are we going to be able to go?” O’Malley asked. “I like fighting in Vegas, I guess but if Fight Island is a thing we can start looking at other opponents outside of the United States. I don’t have a name right now [for next opponent], it depends on who’s healthy, who’s coming off a win. How some of these other fights might play out tonight.”
“There are too many things I gotta figure out, but I should be able to figure it out fast. I have no injuries, my shin hurts, I think I landed a kick on his elbow with my shin. But other than that I’m healthy and ready to go. A week, a month. Whatever.”
He made it clear there’s a lot more going on beyond what he’s been able to show in his last two quick fights.
“I do more jiujitsu and grappling than anything, trying to get my grappling as high level as my striking and I’m almost there,” he said. “And I’m just going to continue to get better on both those and I’m going to be a very, very dangerous bantamweight. And I want to become the best bantamweight ever. I’m 25, I’m going to be in this sport hopefully at bantamweight for five, six years. So I have a lot of fights to put in and a lot of work to do, and as far as who a good opponent would be, it depends on the UFC and what we talk about. But we can keep fighting strikers, I’m down to keep knocking people out.”
We’d love to keep watching Sean O’Malley knock people out, so let’s hope the UFC is willing to crack their wallet open a little this time and make it happen.