Despite constantly jabbing at him on social media, Henry Cejudo actually doesn’t have anything against Sean O’Malley.
The former two-division UFC champion, who has continuously taken shots at certain fighters since his retirement, addressed what appeared to be genuine disdain for O’Malley in recent months.
Cejudo was relentless going after O’Malley before and after his recent loss to Marlon “Chito” Vera, but ultimately “Triple C” believes the former Contender Series winner just isn’t as good as advertised and he doesn’t mind telling him about it.
“I’ll be honest with you, I actually like the kid. In some way I’m hating on him, in some way I like him,” Cejudo told retired UFC fighter Mike Swick on his podcast. “I’m weird like that. I wish the kid the best, but I also think that he thinks he’s better than what he really is. Even though he’s got the gifts, he’s got great distance, great demeanor, great fakes. Watching those like very subtle. I look at all these minor little details but he hasn’t been built to freaking last.
“He hasn’t been through a war. You can give the pain but can you take the pain? That’s the difference between somebody like Sean O’Malley and me. Does he have better striking than me? Probably because of his length and his range, makes him a little dangerous. But you’ve just got to be the full package.”
In the days leading up to O’Malley’s fight, Cejudo actually saw areas that he felt Vera could exploit so he reached out to the former Ultimate Fighter: Latin America competitor to offer his advice on a potential game plan.
“Right before he fought Sean O’Malley, I sent him a message,” Cejudo said. “We’re not even friends but we have a lot of friends in common. I’m like listen the way to beat this dude — make him fight his ‘B’ side. Put him in the clinch, put him against the cage and because of the stance because he’s always heavy with his lead foot forward, I said smoke the hands and take out the f**king kicks. Just smoke the hands and just blasting that front kick, that calf kick.
“Because it’s been taking everybody out. It’s happened to me with Demetrious [Johnson]. This is why I kind of went from the karate stance to a little more neutral because people were catching onto it a little bit too much.”
According to Cejudo, it didn’t take long for Vera to respond to him, although he gave credit to the Ecuadorean native for already targeting a similar strategy for the O’Malley fight.
“He answered me right away,” Cejudo said. “He’s like ‘it’s good to hear from you champ, that means a lot to me’ so I didn’t give him the game plan because I think they kind of already had that down but when somebody’s able to tell you and convey to you, it just assures it to you so much better when you fight.”
Cejudo believes one of the biggest problems plaguing O’Malley right now is a lack of experience in difficult situations, which is just something every fighter needs to face at some point during their career.
He was forced to face a similar gut check moment in his first fight against former UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson, who blasted Cejudo and put him away with strikes in the opening round.
Cejudo then returned just over two years later where he earned a split decision victory against Johnson to claim his first UFC title.
The key now is seeing how O’Malley responds.
“He’s inexperienced in that sense, in all due respect. He really is inexperienced of competition,” Cejudo said. “He can give the pain but he can’t take the pain. It’s nothing to do with him being a star because I also feel like his greatest attribute is him being confident.
“He actually believes in his own smoke, as you should but there’s a difference when you get in there with somebody that can kick you. Somebody that’s not going to shy away from you. Somebody that’s going to put you through the deep waters and how are you going to respond? A true champion is revealed by how you respond to adversity.”