UFC 252: Sean O’Malley Draws Comparison Between Himself and Conor McGregor

“I never think of it as personal, it’s business. It’s what they should be doing,” Sean O’Malley said Wednesday when asked about fighters calling him out. His opponent, Marlon “Chito” Vera, is getting a co-main event spot because of what “The Sugar Show” brings with it, he pointed out. “They can’t get as big of a fan base as I can with their performances, so they’re going to try to beat me. Makes sense.”

O’Malley (12-0) was speaking via webcam with media outlets including Cageside Press ahead of his co-main event fight with Vera at UFC 252 this weekend. It’s a big card, topped by the rubber match between Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier. Something even O’Malley recognizes.

While not one to worry about card position, O’Malley would later admit that “I think [his fight against Vera] is the perfect co-main event for a legendary card. Stipe-D.C. is the biggest trilogy fight ever at heavyweight. The baddest men in the world. To fight right before them is insane. It’s something to look back on, it’s going to be an awesome memory.”

Or as he put in another way, “Stipe vs. DC is the main event, and I’m the main event right before it.”

That sort of brash talk may remind you of another fighter. When asked whose career he’d like to emulate, O’Malley replied that “obviously Conor’s [MgGregor] career went well, Israel Adesanya‘s career went well. I feel like I want a similar path like that.”

The McGregor comparison has been made before. But as O’Malley engages more and more with mental warfare ahead of fights, then knocks opponents out cold, as he did with Eddie Wineland recently, it becomes hard to ignore.

O’Malley sees other similarities with the Irish star as well. “We’re pretty similar in fighting styles. We knock people out in the first round. And we aren’t afraid to say how we feel the fight is going to play out. We have a similar style. We’re explosive strikers. I knock people out in the first round, he knocks people out in the first round. I think there’s a similarity there.”

This fight week, O’Malley opted to dye his hair with the colors of the Ecuadorian flag. Opponent Vera happens to hail from Ecuador. It’s no coincidence.

“The inspiration I got to color my hair was from Chito. He gave me my inspiration,” O’Malley said. “I’m just showing my Ecuadorian fans some love. I think every fight, we’ll do something different. Have a little theme. It’s something I look forward to. And it’s fun.”

Vera would later say that his skin was too thick for O’Malley to get under. Actually, his exact words were “My skin is thicker than his mother.” With than in mind, O’Malley may have already accomplished his objective.

Watch the full UFC 252 media day press scrum with Sean O’Malley above.