Comparing Trash Talkers: Sean Strickland vs. Sean O’Malley

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Few fighters have seen their stock rise as much as Sean Strickland and “Suga” Sean O’Malley’s have over the last 18 months.

Winning the UFC Championship in each of their respective weight classes has no doubt affected each fighter’s star power. Winning the belt as massive underdogs certainly didn’t hurt, and less risk-averse fight fans would have stood to make mountains of money on online sportsbooks such as NoviBet Betting.

That said, it’s also no coincidence that they are two of the easiest fighters for fans of the sport to connect with. Both Strickland and O’Malley are two of the most outspoken fighters in the UFC, but as personalities, they couldn’t be more different.

O’Malley’s Laid Back Style

For all the comparisons he has received to Conor McGregor, O’Malley isn’t actually at his best when engaging with fighters head-on during pre-fight press conferences. Instead, he employs a more laid-back approach to taking jabs at his opponents and always brings the focus back to himself. In the press conference environment, O’Malley comes across as more natural when talking about himself than he does when engaging with others.

Where the comparisons to McGregor likely come up is in O’Malley’s propensity to make predictions about his own fights. The “Mystic Mac” persona helped put McGregor on the map, and it certainly doesn’t hurt when a fighter can make good on his predictions and keep winning. For example, O’Malley correctly predicted himself winning a fight against former bantamweight champion Petr Yan contested almost exclusively on the feet. While he didn’t “put his lights out,” he did show he could stand for three rounds and beat a man though to be unbeatable in boxing exchanges (regardless of whether you agree with the decision).

Strickland’s Adversarial Style

Strickland, on the other hand, is ready and willing to engage anyone, whether fighter, media member, celebrity or fan, that happens to mention his name. Unlike O’Malley, he is more than happy to go on the offensive on the press conference stage, even with fighters he’s not linked to a fight with. After all, Strickland’s harsh trash talk flung in the direction of then-champion Israel Adesanya initially drove interest in a fight between the two.

While it took longer than expected to happen, when it finally did, Strickland captured the UFC belt and vaulted himself to the next level of stardom.

He may be blunt and sometimes (often) controversial. However, it is clear the UFC fans relate to Strickland on a different level than other fighters. This, in spite of the fact his comments may veer off from the subject of his fight and into the territory of his irreverent perspective on social and political issues, as well as his personal thoughts on his compatriots. He is also not beneath a good publicity stunt, as he recently sparred Sneako, a popular YouTuber, and taught him a lesson in boxing.

In Comparison

On the surface, the trash-talking stylings of Sean O’Malley and Sean Strickland are very different. O’Malley is more apt to using social media quips to get a point across his fans can cling to, while Strickland is not afraid to get his hands dirty on the press conference stage. However, there is one key commonality between the two: the connection with the fans.

The roads that both O’Malley and Strickland have taken to stardom have been different, but both fighters put themselves out there in a way that more fighters should; O’Malley with his YouTube channel, and Strickland with his X account, formerly known as Twitter. On the press conference stage, both fighters exude a different kind of energy, but the fans have taken to them all the same.

Of course, the rise of both men simply does not happen without the results to back it up, nor does it likely happen without the UFC title, perhaps the biggest point of comparison in the rise of both.

All told, both Strickland and O’Malley put themselves in a position to be in the title fight before stepping in the Octagon and actually winning it, so as different as their energy may be, the importance of their ability to effectively promote themselves and talk trash has been every bit as important as their abilities when the cage door closes.

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