Sean O’Malley already considers himself the most talked-about bantamweight on the entire UFC roster, which is why he’s not surprised at all that he got Cody Garbrandt’s attention just recently.
Ahead of his flyweight title fight against Deiveson Figueiredo being confirmed this past week, the former bantamweight champion had teased a move down to 125 pounds for that exact opportunity. O’Malley countered with a running emoji as if to say Garbrandt was fleeing the bantamweight division after they both earned impressive knockouts at UFC 250 and then discussed the possibility of facing off down the road.
That set off a string of messages exchanged between O’Malley and Garbrandt on social media.
While O’Malley is focused on his upcoming fight against Marlon “Chito” Vera at UFC 252, and Garbrandt is now officially moving down to flyweight for a shot at the 125-pound title, the outspoken former Contender Series winner definitely enjoyed the back-and-forth war of words.
In fact, O’Malley doesn’t actually believe Garbrandt was angling for a fight but rather just the attention that goes along with his drawing power these days.
“I don’t think he wants to fight me,” O’Malley told MMA Fighting when asked about Garbrandt. “I might be a little biased … I don’t think Cody wants to fight me.
“I think he sees that fight, I’m long, I’m tall, I’m accurate, I throw straight punches, he throws hooks. He’s 5’3.” I’m 6’4.” He don’t want that fight.”
Garbrandt has taken issue with O’Malley touting himself as the future of the bantamweight division before he’s faced the best fighters in the weight class.
The Ohio native has pointed out numerous times that he was a UFC champion when he was 25 years old while O’Malley is just now starting to crack the top 15 rankings at the same age.
For all the bad blood shared between the fighters, O’Malley sees Garbrandt’s response as nothing more than promotional bluster that proves he’s already got the attention of the upper echelon of the bantamweight division whether they want to admit it or not.
“I think I’ve been in his head,” O’Malley said. “I think he probably watched my fight with Jose Quinonez because we didn’t have any beef back then but I bet he was thinking ‘I’m going to avoid that fight’ back then.
“Then I knock out Eddie [Wineland] and he knocks out [Raphael] Assuncao but like I said, I think I said it on a podcast the other day, I respect Cody a lot. He got knocked out not once, not twice, he got knocked out three times in a row and then he comes back and fights a tough guy like Assuncao and he got the job done.”
Respect or not, O’Malley just feels like he would be a stylistic nightmare for Garbrandt if the UFC ever matched them up.
It doesn’t appear that will be a problem any time soon with Garbrandt taking a stab at becoming a two-division champion with his flyweight title fight now scheduled in November, but O’Malley will gladly revisit the topic when the time is right.
“There’s respect there 100 percent but I just think my skillset versus his skillset, I beat him,” O’Malley said. “That’s what it comes down to and obviously not afraid to express how I feel about that fight.
“He’s just getting hot headed, and obviously if someone talks crap, he’s going to talk crap back. It just worked out good.”