UFC bantamweight Sean O’Malley was able to take positives out of the time spent sidelined due to dealing with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, but that isn’t to say there weren’t also quite a few negatives.
Last September, O’Malley had to withdraw from a scheduled UFC 229 appointment due to a potential doping violation. O’Malley ultimately was given a six-month suspension after the presence of ostarine in a pre-fight test was traced back to contaminated supplements, and he’s now eligible to return to the octagon.
O’Malley (10-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) was very upfront throughout the entire ordeal. With the UFC and USADA no longer announcing potential violations before due process is conducted, O’Malley took it upon himself to keep fans updated.
That, however, didn’t stop online haters from voicing their thoughts on O’Malley. And though he was eventually able to put that in perspective, the bantamweight says that was the hardest part.
“It was hard,” O’Malley told “MMA Tonight” in Sirius XM. “I remember the first couple of nights, I would just kind of tear up thinking, like, damn – because a lot of people, you look at Instagram, social media, you see people calling you (expletive) whatever. And you’re not supposed to look at the comments. I’m pretty good about not looking at the comments, and there was more positive than there was negative, but there can be 50 positives and one negative, you kind of latch on to that negative comment.
“So that kind of sucked, but then I remembered, the people that are commenting on that, they’re hurting on the inside. They’re depressed, they’re sad. People that do that are already kind of going through their own (expletive). So it made sense that people are like that.”
As the lengthy process unfolded, O’Malley also had to deal with another career first: inactivity. As someone used to fighting every few months since he was 16, the 24-year-old said it was both “super weird” and “pretty depressing” not having a fight on the horizon.
But that, too, came with some positives.
“It was good, though. I feel I got to learn a bunch about myself and kind of not identify as a fighter as much,” O’Malley said. “I’m not just a fighter. So it was good. Everything happens for a reason. It all turned out to be OK.”
O’Malley, who seemingly has his sights set on a UFC 239 spot, was also able to use the time away to get surgery and believes it all worked out in the end. Still, after his innocence didn’t keep him from going through this stressful process once, it’s hard not to get apprehensive about the idea of it happening again.
“People, everyone thinks it’s steroids – people are saying I got caught doing steroids,” O’Malley said. “And what ostarine is a SARM (selective androgen receptor modulator, a PED that falls under ‘other anabolic agents’), it’s not a steroid. What (ex-champ T.J. Dillashaw) got caught for, that’s a (expletive) cheat. You can’t fake that. But that’s what people think I got in trouble for, the same kind of stuff. And no, that’s not even – mine was, I didn’t take anything.
“So it sucks getting tested by USADA now because it’s (expletive) stressful. Every time I see them at the gym I’m like, ‘God, I didn’t take anything last time when I failed the test, so what is it going to be this time?’”
O’Malley, who’s yet to lose in his pro MMA career, stamped his octagon ticket with a big knockout win at Dana White’s Contender Series 2. He’s since scored unanimous decision wins over Terrion Ware and Andre Soukhamthath and is widely regarded as one of the promotion’s most exciting young prospects.
For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.