Sean O’Malley was disappointed to see Aljamain Sterling secure a split decision victory over Henry Cejudo earlier this month.
The former two-division champion made his long-awaited return to the Octagon at UFC 288, challenging reigning bantamweight titleholder Aljamain Sterling in the evening’s main event. Despite a valiant effort, Cejudo came up short on two of the judges’ scorecards, setting the stage for a matchup between ‘Funk Master’ and the No. 2 ranked contender, Sean O’Malley.
Speaking with Ariel Helwani, O’Malley admitted that he would prefer to have faced Henry Cejudo for the bantamweight title, but in the end, ‘Triple C’ lucked out by not having to step inside the Octagon with him.
“I think Henry lucked out,” O’Malley said on The MMA Hour. “He got lucky he lost that fight because I do believe I would have put Henry’s lights out. He stands there with his chin up. I’m sure you saw Conor [McGregor’s] tweet and stuff, that was absolutely hilarious because Henry, he thinks he’s just this—He has a good résumé, he’s really good, don’t get me wrong, but he thinks he invented play sparring. He thinks he’s just this guy that is the incredible guy, it’s just annoying. So I would have loved to sleep that dude.
“He walks out there with his chin up, he fights like he’s 6-foot-3, he’s not. He fights like he’s a tall guy and you think being as smart as he is he would have a little bit better style, but I was just fired up in there.”
The Conor McGregor tweet mentioned by Sean O’Malley featured the Irish superstar mocking Cejudo while celebrating Aljamain Sterling’s victory. In true McGregor style, the post was deleted shortly after, but not before ‘Triple C’ had an opportunity to issue a response saying McGregor “don’t got sh*t on my résumé.”
Sean O’Malley Believes Henry Cejudo Beat Aljamain Sterling at UFC 288
Though he believes Henry Cejudo did enough to win the fight, Sean O’Malley was critical of the Olympic gold medalist’s performance, specifically noting his awkward stance just as McGregor did.
“He did well, I honestly thought he had won the fight, but it’s just like, maybe ‘Captain’ [Eric Albarracin] told him to stand like that?’ O’Malley said. “I don’t know if he thought of it himself, but for someone that speaks so highly of themselves, you think he would have a little bit better style being his kind of build.”
Sean O’Malley sees a fight with Henry Cejudo as a more lucrative opportunity, but with Sterling’s win at UFC 288, he believes that could have raised the bantamweight champion’s stock enough to generate some series pay-per-view buys when the two eventually meet inside the Octagon.
“I think [Cejudo is the bigger money fight], but now that Aljo beat Henry, me vs. Aljo is still a really big fight,” O’Malley said. “I think me vs. Henry is a little bit bigger fight, but not much difference. Those guys are similar draws. I’m very curious what the pay-per-views did for this fight. I think me vs. Aljo could double it—Or I could double it, sorry.”
According to Cejudo’s coach Eric Albarracin, UFC 288 scored an estimated 700,000 pay-per-view buys.
While his next matchup will undoubtedly be against Aljamain Sterling for the 135-pound crown later this year, Sean O’Malley hopes that the door remains open for a potential showdown with Henry Cejudo.
“You can’t tell me you wouldn’t like to punch him in the face,” O’Malley said. “He’s just got that face. That big head, short arms, short legs, he’s 5-foot-4, he fights with his chin higher than—I don’t know, there’s just something about Henry I would have loved to smack him.
“Who knows, maybe somewhere down the line somewhere if he doesn’t quit again, then we can make that happen.”