By: Nick Portella
What’s good fight fans? Today I had the chance to catch up with UFC rookie sensation “Sugar” Sean O’Malley. Sean is 8-0 as a pro-MMA fighter with his most recent win coming via highlight reel walk off knockout on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contenders. Sean was the sole recipient of a UFC contract on the July 18 show. Let’s talk with Sean about his fight, career, and what his plans are moving forward.
Nick: What does it mean (for you) to be a fighter?
Sean: It’s my life. I wake up and think about training for the day. I come home, take a nap, and train again. It’s my entire life and I just want to be the best fighter I can possibly be.
Nick: At what age did you begin to train martial arts?
Sean: I started doing kickboxing when I was 16 years old. I began to train in MMA at the age of 18.
Nick: What was your amateur record?
Sean: With all combined combat sports July 18 was my 30th fight between professional and amateur. My amateur MMA record was 12-2.
Nick: How long have you been with MMA Lab?
Sean: I started with them at the age of 19 so I have been there a little over three years.
Nick: Your nickname is The Sugar. Who gave it to you and why?
Sean: My first coach in Montana gave me the name. He said I was just so sweet to watch. The name stuck with me from then and it’s now a part of me.
Nick: What would you say your best attribute is as a fighter?
Sean: I got to show my heart a little bit at my last fight. I never did feel like I was in any danger even when I was on my back. I will always keep coming and keep pushing during the fight. You will have to kill me to stop me.
Nick: With 7 of your 8 wins being finished is this the high paced assault we can plan to expect once you step into the UFC octagon?
Sean: Oh yes. Nothing will change and I am going to fight the same way, I will be looking for the knockout every time.
Nick: You have a great striking ability and are technically sound on the ground, do you prefer a stand-up fight or taking it to the ground?
Sean: I’m comfortable wherever the fight will go. I would prefer to stand up. I know the people I fight will try and put me on my back to not stand and strike with me, but I am training wrestling and Jiu Jitsu pretty hard.
Nick: July 18 you had the opportunity to showcase your skills on Tuesday Night Contenders. Obviously what you have been doing was being noticed by the right people. What was going through your head when the call came in?
Sean: I had heard about it before I got my KO in LFA. They called me and told me who I was fighting so I looked him up. I saw that he wasn’t a big ground guy so the striking battle was perfect for me. It gave me the perfect opportunity at the right time to get in there and do what I do. Then I heard Snoop was commentating so it just kept getting better and better.
Nick: You faced a tough opponent in 8-3 Alfred Khashakyan who’s 8 wins have all come via finishes. Knowing your opponents stats did it change up your training at all for this camp?
Sean: I took this camp like a kickboxing camp. I didn’t spar much and wanted to stay healthy for this fight. He also has never been finished with punches. All of his losses were via submission. I knew as soon as the punch landed that he was out of there.
Nick: With several good performances going on that evening did you have any doubt that the UFC contract would go to you?
Sean: I really didn’t concentrate on that too much. I went out there to fight, show what I have, and have fun. I knew that if I did what I came to do I would have a good chance at getting signed. I was super jacked up after the fight to see if the contract was mine.
Nick: Your finish was one for the highlight reels. Once the fight started and you got to feel out your opponent were you confident that this would end with you finishing your opponent and not taking it to the judges?
Sean: I knew I was going to knock him out or he was going to knock me out. After he threw a few punches at me and I felt his speed and power I knew that I would knock him out. In the pre fight, he told me that I would feel his power and try and take him down. He ended up feeling my power and tried to take me down.
Nick: Contract is ready and you are now on the UFC roster. Is there anyone in particular that you would like to fight or are you going to take anyone they put in front of you?
Sean: I haven’t really thought about anybody. I’m going to recover from a few injuries and get back to training. I’m hoping to fight at the end of this year or early next year. I’m hoping my first fight is a good striking match, but I’m game to fight anyone. The hype train will probably be there for my first fight and I assume that they will push me my first time out.
Nick: Do you think nerves or octagon jitters will play any factor in your first fight on the biggest stage in the world?
Sean: I am past the jitters and the nervousness. Even for this fight I was good for the entire fight week and walking out to the cage.
Nick: Since you have made the journey from amateur to pro and now the UFC which is the ultimate goal by the age of 22. What advice could you offer to new fighters starting their career?
Sean: Just be yourself. Everything will work out in the end. Train smart and listen to your body. Also, educate yourself about eating healthy.
Nick: Sean have you submitted to the takeover?
Sean wanted to thank everyone in Montana. He is from there and they have supported him the whole way. He has had amateur and professional fights there and it has always been love and support. He also had a huge shout out for The MMA Lab. They have been helping him sharpen his skills and get to where he is today. Lastly, he wanted to thank all of his sponsors. There have been so many that have supported him the list would go on forever. I can assure you that he had a kind word for everyone. He really appreciates everyone who has stuck with him on this crazy journey. It is as much of a win for them as it is for Sean.
I have to say it was awesome to speak with Sean. I know he has a ton of things going on in his life and a new UFC contract to think about. He is as good of a person as he is a fighter for taking a little time out of his day to share some things about himself with the MMA world. I have no doubt that he will be shaking up the bantamweight division in no time. Definitely, follow his social media to keep up with everything he is doing. Signing off for TheMMATakeOver.com this is Nick Portella. @NickPortellaMMA