Sean O’Malley has been planning on a grudge match with former UFC bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt for quite some time, but now “Suga” wants no part of “No Love.”
The two fighters have been on a collision course ever since O’Malley burst onto the scene four years ago. After losing his title to T.J. Dillashaw and a few more fights after that it seemed as if Garbrandt’s fall and O’Malley’s rise in the bantamweight division would result in a meeting between the top-level strikers. O’Malley did his best to goad Garbrandt into a war of words to spice up the rivalry and “No Love” took the bait like a starving fish.
After losing four out of his last five contests at 135 pounds Garbrandt decided to move down to flyweight in 2021 and try to change his luck around. The move offered a fresh start for the former UFC champion, but it essentially nixed any potential meeting with O’Malley, who shook off a loss to Marlon Vera in 2020 to produce a 3-0 record in 2021.
However, after losing his flyweight debut to Kai Kara-France in devastating fashion Garbrandt went back to the well and started to talk about his missed fight with O’Malley. “No Love” was still looking to finally settle the beef, but times have changed. O’Malley no longer sees the value in a matchup with Garbrandt as he hasn’t looked like the same fighter of late.
“Dude, Cody’s not getting that fight,” O’Malley said on his YouTube channel. “When he said it, you could see 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 (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). 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.
“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.”
While O’Malley is probably right about this being the wrong point in time to fight Garbrandt there’s still a chance “No Love” turns things around. Getting knocked out in four of his last six Octagon appearances does offer some cause for concern, but Garbrandt is a former UFC champion who was once undefeated at 11-0 and coming off a title fight win over Dominick Cruz. He’s also just 30 years of age and has a really good camp behind him. The door has not closed on Garbrandt and most people should know that.
That said, it would be wise for O’Malley to keep away from Garbrandt at this time and focus on higher ranked fighters in the bantamweight division who are going to get him closer to a title shot. After scoring an impressive knockout finish over Raulian Paiva at UFC 269 this past December the sky is truly the limit for “Suga,” so he needs matchups that will boost his already soaring UFC stock.