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Love him or hate him: UFC 292 fighters weigh in on Sean O'Malley title bout

Sean O'Malley photo.jpg
Posted at 7:08 PM, Aug 17, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-17 21:18:13-04

BOSTON — Love him or hate him, people tune in for Sean O'Malley.

One half of Saturday's main event at UFC 292 in Boston is the Helena native, who is a polarizing figure on the mixed martial arts landscape. And at Wednesday's media day, all of the fighters weighed in on O'Malley's title fight against Aljamain Sterling.

Some were excited to see what O'Malley could do, but most just want to see him lose.

"I don't really care what people say, it doesn't really affect me. You know?" O'Malley said. "I kind of like being the underdog, being doubted."

The UFC media day featured a number of fighters in O'Malley's division at 135 pounds. Also fighting on the card is veteran Pedro Munhoz, who fought O'Malley last July to a no-contest after an accidental eye poke.

While not a fan of O'Malley or his antics, Munhoz gave credit to him for his ability, and believes he's improved since they fought.

"He's pretty tough and getting better every single fight, and besides all the immature stuff that he does on the internet, he's a good fighter and if I get the opportunity to fight him again, I don't see why not," Munhoz said.

But O'Malley also had support from Phoenix teammate Mario Bautista of the MMA Lab, who will fight on Saturday as well.

"I think behind the scenes, what everyone doesn't see, he's actually pretty humble, still a funny guy in the gym but when it comes down to work and to do what he needs to do as far as rounds and training, he's a very hard worker and he does what he's supposed to," Bautista said.

Even Marlon Vera, who beat O'Malley three years ago, weighed in with some praise, but also, his hesitations.

"He's a great fighter. He has great pop in the hands, he moves well, my understanding is his jiu jitsu is pretty good," Vera said. "But I just haven't seen him in front of good competition right? You can fight No. 1 guy but how you get to No. 1 is important and who you beat before the fight."

The man who will stand across the octagon from O'Malley is current bantamweight champ Aljamain Sterling. The two have at times complimented each other's styles in the build up, but the pleasantries end there.

"I think if anyone had the same Snoop Dogg promoting their fight after coming off the Contender Series, I think anyone could've become a superstar like that over night because it's hype. It's hype," Sterling said. "The it factor, I don't know what it is, I don't get it. He has a flashy style in the sense of he gets knockouts but the guys he's knocking out, for the casual fan, that's cool, but for the hardcore fans who actually tune in and watch this sport, I think they're smart enough to understand what's what and you can kind of pick and choose.

"He did what he was supposed to do with the competition that was put in front of him, but let's not make any mistakes about it, you put that against these other guys they're going to highlight them. I can't wait to go out there and smash the teacher's pet hype machine and go on with my day."

UFC 292 gets underway on Saturday the TD Garden. The official weigh-ins will take place Friday morning.