‘Take two years off’ – Sean O’Malley tells Raul Rosas Jr. to forget fighting and just improve

Raul Rosas Jr. wants to rush his UFC career, and Sean O'Malley thinks he needs to do the opposite.

By: Anton Tabuena | 6 months ago
‘Take two years off’ – Sean O’Malley tells Raul Rosas Jr. to forget fighting and just improve
Copyright: Scott Garfitt / IMAGO Images

18-year-old prospect Raul Rosas Jr. took the first loss of his MMA career at UFC 287, and Sean O’Malley says it wasn’t very surprising given his age and lack of experience.

“I called that. I said I think Christian Rodriguez is going to be too much for him. He’s 18! That’s so young,” Sean O’Malley said on his podcast. “(Rodriguez) trains at a good f–king gym. Doesn’t mean Raul Rosas Jr. is done, but I mean, where do you go from here?

“I said he’s going to come out frantic, try to do what he does probably to most people at the gym–take him down, take their back, choke them. But if not, he’s going to gas. He can’t keep that pace, and Christian Rodriguez did really good, stayed calm.”

Is signing minors even a good thing?

Rosas has potential, but despite the seemingly unnecessary hype and marketing push, he clearly looked like what people should’ve really expected him to be, like an inexperienced young fighter that’s still learning the game. As Sean O’Malley briefly discussed, did the UFC really need to rush to sign him at 17-years-old?

“Maybe you don’t even sign him at that age – you let him fight for two, three years, rack up some more wins, then this kid’s coming in 15-0 undefeated,” O’Malley said. “But UFC, that’s the risk they’re willing to take. ‘Hey, we’re going to have a potential star.’ He still can be. I don’t know.”

Sean O’Malley advices Raul Rosas Jr. to take time off

Rosas spoke a big game even as he came in as an 18-year-old with one UFC bout to his name. Rosas kept saying he can finish bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling right now, and will be a three division UFC champion.

After UFC 287, it’s pretty clear he’s not at all close to that level right now, but Sean O’Malley tried to give him good advice on how to proceed with his young career.

“What’s next for him? I think there’s definitely guys in the division that he can go out there and beat. But I don’t even think he needs to go out there and get a win. He needs to go out there and get better. Take two years off, lift, f–king grind,” O’Malley said. “Just don’t fight for a couple of years. Get good. Just improve everywhere, come back at 20 years old.

“He wants to be the youngest ever champ, and maybe that humbled him a little bit. Well, that’s not not realistic. If you take two years off, you’re still 20, still have that possibility.”

Jon Jones is officially the youngest ever UFC champ at 23 years and 242 days old, and if that’s the main goal, the 18-year-old Rosas still has a lot of time to achieve it. He’ll really need to make a lot of big leaps in his game for that to happen though, and their plan up to this point seemed to be to just rush everything.

Rosas is now 7-1 in his MMA career, but his first seven bouts all happened in about one year. He entered all those fight camps consecutively to build up his record, but as Sean O’Malley mentioned, taking more time to actually focus on improving his skills everywhere could help his career more.

Perhaps the loss has changed things, but Rosas has repeatedly said he is looking to be fast tracked, and wants to win the UFC title in less than one year. With that mindset, would he even consider the idea of sitting out two?

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About the author
Anton Tabuena
Anton Tabuena

Anton Tabuena is the Managing Editor for Bloody Elbow. He’s been covering MMA and combat sports since 2009, and has also fought in MMA, Muay Thai and kickboxing.

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