UFC fighter Sean O’Malley wants to surpass Connor McGregor in earnings and Cannabis is part of his plan
O'Malley believes getting into cannabis with his own signature strain could be a '$100 million venture'.
Connor McGregor was the sports world’s highest-paid athlete in 2021, earning more than US$181 million, according to Forbes.
The majority of those earnings were attributed to McGregor selling his stake in Proper No. Twelve Irish whiskeys, which was acquired by Proximo Spirits, a company that owns Jose Cuervo and other alcohol brands, in a deal reportedly worth $600 million.
In a recent interview with Forbes, fighter Sean O’Malley, 28, said he’s not only hoping to follow in McGregor’s footsteps but surpass the former UFC featherweight and lightweight double champion in both status and earnings.
“He’s definitely someone who’s inspired me to want more and to be able to say, ‘This is possible,’” O’Malley told Forbes. “That’s what I’m after. He’s made the most money hands down in the UFC and he’s the most popular guy hands down in the UFC, so getting to that point and surpassing him is definitely the goal, respectfully. And someone’s going to do the same after I pass Conor. There’s going to be a young buck, an up-and-comer who wants to pass me.”
O’Malley, the No. 2 ranked bantamweight contender, has used his status as a mixed martial arts fighter to launch several brands and businesses, including his ‘Suga’ clothing line, two podcasts and a sponsorship with Las Vegas-based Zouk Group to host exclusive UFC fight after-parties at its venues. O’Malley also continues to grow his audience by regularly streaming on Twitch and YouTube.
“There [are] so many avenues of making money that I have right now,” O’Malley told Forbes. “I’m in a position where I feel I’m a good manager for myself.”
O’Malley, who has long advocated for the benefits of cannabis, is also eyeing a weed brand under his moniker, Suga, which was given to him by one of his MMA coaches, “because [he’s] sweet to watch.”
“Conor did his whiskey —$100 million or whatever he sold it for,” O’Malley says. “That’s going to be my $100 million venture: getting into cannabis with the Suga strain,” he told Forbes.
O’Malley has never been shy about his appreciation for the plant, from donning cannabis-inspired brains in the Octagon to sharing training videos of exercising while smoking joints simultaneously.
O’Malley’s frequent association with cannabis led former fighter Brendan Schaub to speculate on a podcast last year that O’Malley and the Diaz brothers, also known for their affinity for the plant, could team up for their own cannabis brand.
“I believe ‘Sugаr’ Seаn could make а lot of money from this,” Schaub said on his weekly podcast, The Schaub Show. “I cаn’t believe no Diаz brothers strain hаs been developed … Becаuse the Diаz [brothers] аnd ‘Sugаr’ Seаn could do something special if they got together. And I don’t know аnyone who wouldn’t be interested in hiring them.”
The UFC would seemingly have no issue with that, as the vast majority of UFC and MMA athletes are pro-cannabis. In 2021, the UFC relaxed its cannabis policy and positive tests no longer automatically trigger fines or suspensions.
Jeff Novitzky, the UFC’s senior vice president of athlete health and performance, had long supported softening the rules around pot.
“By sanctioning marijuana, I really think we are pushing these athletes to drugs that are even more dangerous,” Novitzky said during a podcast appearance in 2020.
Novitzky went on to say that UFC athletes primarily use cannabis for three reasons: pain control, sleep and anxiety.
“The mental aspect of this game is overwhelming,” he said. “When you’re going to be facing one of the baddest dudes and girls on this planet in a locked cage, I mean, mentally to be able to do that, it just makes you a special, special person.”
TMZ Sports reported in 2018 that friends had grown O’Malley his own cultivar, Sugar Show OG, and O’Malley famously smoked with Snoop Dogg after winning his UFC contract, an experience that he said he would remember forever.
“Right when I walked into his trailer, he handed me a joint and I was pumped. It felt like a movie because I walked into his trailer and he’s got his body guards, he’s got a couple of other people in there, and there was like three joints going around,” O’Malley said, via Bleacher Report.
“I was puffin’ and passin’, trying to keep up, and they had a TV in there playing highlights of my fight, so we were watching that and smoking, it was so much fun. ”