Sean O’Malley Scaled Back on Sparring Ahead of UFC 250


Sean O’Malley brings his “Sugar Show” back to Las Vegas this weekend. UFC 250 won’t have crowds in attendance, but for millions watching around the world, it’s a chance to see one of the UFC’s hottest up-and-comers get a real test.

That test comes in the form of Eddie Wineland, the former WEC bantamweight champion. Wineland is a veteran of the game, at 35 having fought a who’s who of opponents in the UFC.

Ahead of the fight, O’Malley — decked out in a hairdo with all the colors of the rainbow — discussed changes he’d made in his training camp. Specifically, scaling back his sparring, which has left him feeling healthier.

To be clear, O’Malley told Cageside Press at the UFC 250 virtual media day, he doesn’t consider it a lack of sparring. It’s not a negative. But, he explained, “I’d rather spar a little bit less and be more healthy. It’s a mental thing for a lot of people, sparring. Like ‘did I spar, did I go hard?’ I just had a full training camp three months ago [for UFC 248] and literally didn’t get out of shape.”

“It’s not that I didn’t spar at all. I definitely sparred every Saturday leading up to it. I just wasn’t sparring on Wednesday. It was once a week,” O’Malley continued. “And it was actually really nice, really beneficial because you spar Wednesday and Saturday, you get injured a little bit Wednesday, it affects your Thursday, Friday and then you’re sparring Saturday with a little injury. And that affects the next week. So I was able to to have a really really healthy camp this fight camp, which is pretty rare if you talk to most fighters. And I didn’t feel the need to get hit in the head more. I think I probably will continue to do my camp like that.”

O’Malley, without question, is to date the biggest star to emerge from Dana White’s Contender Series. Yet when he fights at the UFC Apex this weekend, it will be new territory for the young fighter. His time on the show came before the Apex opened.

The old venue for the Contender Series, the TUF Gym, was something of a sweat box. But there’s no jealousy or chip on O’Malley’s shoulder about newer fighters getting fancier digs.

“I guess it’s pretty cool to be able to fight in a different place than they have now. It was pretty OG,” said O’Malley, noting that it’s not something he really thinks about much. Still, he continued, “I think looking back at it when it’s all said and done, I’ll be a legend of the Contender Series.”

UFC 250 takes place this Saturday, June 6, at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. The main card airs live on PPV following prelims on ESPN (TSN in Canada).


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