Sean O’Malley: Conor McGregor won’t be as good in return, but with right mindset ‘he’ll show up’

UFC bantamweight champion Sean O’Malley is an avid fan of Conor McGregor, and he thinks the former two-division champ can pull off “the greatest comeback in sports history” when he returns in June.

But there is one caveat.

“He’s very skilled, but I think what sets people apart is obviously the mindset,” O’Malley told in an interview this past November in New York City. “I think if he can get back on that. You’re not going to be as good as you were if you were training and grinding for years, and you’re living on a yacht and doing these things. You just aren’t going to be the same guy. So it’s just what you do for those three months.”

McGregor has more than that, if all goes according to plan. On New Year’s Eve, he announced he will fight The Ultimate Fighter 31 rival coach Michael Chandler on June 29, a pay-per-view date which is expected to anchor International Fight Week in Las Vegas.

McGregor said he intends to fight Chandler at middleweight, or three divisions higher than the featherweight class he first dominated, though it wasn’t clear if he was serious and UFC officials haven’t confirmed the fight or its weight division; the pair were expected to meet at welterweight.

One of the biggest narratives surrounding McGregor’s return has been his lifestyle, which joined the jet set after a blockbuster pay-per-view boxing match against Floyd Mayweather in 2017. The Irish star often is seen drinking and partying on his social media accounts, leading many to question whether he’s truly taking his return seriously. Those concerns build on the physical circumstances of his long layoff, a broken leg he suffered in a trilogy against Dustin Poirier at UFC 264.

O’Malley has been watching McGregor and likes what he sees. Of course, the bantamweight champ is an unabashed fan of “Notorious” and has modeled his own career on the ex-champ; he said he’s watched every interview McGregor has released. If anything, O’Malley knows that there’s one area McGregor can’t – and won’t – neglect in his return.

“If he’s [for] three months dialed in and laser-focused on the task at hand, I think he’ll show up and put on a performance,” O’Malley said.

O’Malley will certainly be watching when McGregor steps into the cage with Chandler, because whatever happens, there’s nothing like a McGregor fight week.

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