How UFC superstar Sean O’Malley built success outside the Octagon
“Suga” Sean O’Malley is one of the most exciting fighters in the UFC today.
Hailing from Helena, Montana, the 27-year-old sensation faces former bantamweight interim champion Petr Yan (16-3-0 MMA, 8-2-0 UFC) at UFC 280 on Oct. 29 in what will be O’Malley’s most significant fight of his career.
O’Malley (15-1-1 MMA, 8-1-1 UFC) is looking to earn his long-awaited title shot in the bantamweight division with a big win over Yan. He is widely known for his spectacular knockout finishes – six out of his eight wins in the UFC have come by knockout.
With his accumulation of finishes, O’Malley has been awarded the $50,000 Fight of The Night Bonus four times and two Fight of the Night Bonuses, one being $50,000 and the most recent being $75,000.
Sean O’Malley the entrepreneur
Despite O’Malley’s successful fighting career thus far, most of his money is made outside of the octagon.
“I’m way more comfortable being in front of the camera now, way more comfortable entertaining and understanding what my job is. I’m an entertainer”O’Malley said on Chris Van Vliet’s Insight podcast when asked how he has evolved as his career has progressed.
“I’m a UFC fighter/entertainer; they go hand-in-hand. Some people are just fighters, and they’re not making the money I’m making outside the UFC. I’m getting paid from merch [merchandise], YouTube, Twitch, TikTok, and Instagram,” he explained.
“I’m making six figures easily – sometimes six figures a month, not even from fighting. Understanding entertainment and being a fighter and balancing that is something I’ve gotten really good at,” O’Malley said.
Social media presence
O’Malley has a significant social media presence – racking up over 480,000 YouTube subscribers, 150,000 Twitch followers, and 2.4 million Instagram followers, and he is one thousand followers away from a million on TikTok.
Unsurprisingly, his enormous following has resulted in a successful podcast called the TimboSugarShow, which O’Malley and his Coach Tim Welch host.
What makes O’Malley so likable to the naked eye is that he is simply himself. O’Malley understands he does not need to play a fabricated character to gain fans.
O’Malley is not afraid to dye his hair vibrant colors, spend his time live-streaming video games to his thousands of followers on YouTube, or even get spontaneous tattoos from rappers like 6ix9ine.
Suga Sean taking over fashion?
“The merchandise drops we’ve been doing go insane. Like the undefeated merch right after my fight, I had to make up undefeated merch. I said I’m going to post this right after my fight – and that did six figures in a week. It was crazy,”O’Malley told Vliet.
O’Malley was referring to his limited undefeated hoodies and t-shirts, which are now unavailable. He offers shirts, hoodies, slides, and even a ‘Suga Sean’ costume, a pink wig you can wear on Halloween, all found on Sugashop.co.
“I have YouTube, Twitch, podcasts, all that stuff I do is another way for people to interact with me – and it’s all genuine, organic stuff. It’s not like God I have to do this, I want to do everything I do, and I think people know that – it’s a fun way for the fans to interact with me,”O’Malley told Daniel Cormier on the DC Check-In.
What can fighters learn from him?
In a sport where nothing is promised, Sean O’Malley is an example of what to do with your career in Mixed Martial Arts; fighters should use the platform they are given to expand their sources of income.
No athlete wants to be stuck in a position where they struggle to make ends meet after losing a fight – O’Malley has shown the benefits of having various sources of revenue and how being your genuine self is key to gaining fans.
It will be fascinating to watch Sean O’Malley build his notoriety inside the octagon and how he will continue to grow his brand outside of the locked cage doors.