Former two-time UFC bantamweight champion, T.J. Dillashaw isn’t falling into the hype surrounding surging division striker, Sean O’Malley — claiming that he doubts the Montana finisher will ever lift gold inside the Octagon.
Returning from a two-year retroactive USADA suspension back in June, former gold holder, Dillashaw made a comeback to the bantamweight pile with a narrow, razor-thin split decision triumph over the #2 ranked contender, Cory Sandhagen — leapfrogging the Aurora native in his return to the rankings to boot.
The victory came as Dillashaw’s first since a successful bantamweight title knockback against two-time foe and former Team Alpha MMA training partner, Cody Garbrandt back in August 2018.
In regards to Dana White’s Contender Series product, O’Malley, Angels Camp veteran, Dillashaw isn’t sold on claims that the polarizing striker is destined to eventually lift the UFC title inside the Octagon.
“I don’t think he’ll become champion,” Dillashaw told Submission Radio.
“He’s got too many holes and they’re (the UFC) feeding him the right fights ’cause he’s a huge draw, right? For one, they pumped him up, they put him in the UFC pump-up machine. They can do that to pretty much anyone if you have a little bit of character, if you can talk whatsoever, be a little bit colorful, they’ll pump you up. And then he’s done a good job promoting himself. He’s done a really good job of that. And it takes work, man. When you see these guys that get pumped up, they’re also putting in hard work, so he does a good job of that.“
Dillashaw then reflected on O’Malley’s August knockout loss to Marlon Vera last year, in which he suffered his first defeat in the Octagon after some damaging ground strikes before the close of the frame.
“But we’ve seen what happened as soon as he fought ‘Chito’ (Marlon Vera),” Dillashaw said. “‘Chito’ is more of a top-ranked fighter, and he got finished in the first round. I mean, I don’t think that he’ll be champion, but he’s a good draw. Hopefully, he can make it far enough to where could use some of that thunder and get paid off it,” Dillashaw remarked whilst laughing.
In the midst of a two-fight rise since his first professional loss against Vera, the outspoken, O’Malley returned triumphantly at UFC 260 with a stunning third round knockout victory over Thomas Almeida — before taking Fight of the Night honours against short-notice replacement, Kris Moutinho en route to a third round stoppage at UFC 264 last month.
Hitting the headlines recently, O’Malley questioned why the Dana White-led organization appears to have a problem with sufficiently compensating fighters what they are worth, as well as claiming that UFC matchmaker, Sean Shelby was “mad” at him for turning down a potential fight at UFC 268.
According to recent reports, the promotion are currently targeting and working toward pairing O’Malley with former lightweight title challenger and three-time featherweight title challenger, Frankie Edgar next.
As for Bang Muay Thai mainstay, Dillashaw, the veteran kickboxer is currently recovering from recent knee surgery, with a potential February Octagon return on the cards. The former division kingpin expects to meet either current champion, Aljamain Sterling or former champion, Petr Yan for undisputed spoils in his comeback fight.
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