UFC co-main eventer talks up the Sean O’Malley blueprint

UFC Vegas 80 co-headliner Joe Pyfer is taking a page out of Sean O'Malley's book.

By: Milan Ordoñez | 2 months ago
UFC co-main eventer talks up the Sean O’Malley blueprint
IMAGO | Alejandro Salazar / Zuma

After just two wins in the UFC, middleweight Joe Pyfer is already co-headlining a fight night event. The 27-year-old will face Abdul Razak Alhassan at UFC Vegas 80 this weekend. 

And at this point in his career, Pyfer isn’t willing to take on lower-ranked opponents unless it comes with a favorable deal. 

UFC’s Joe Pyfer rejects top 15 opponents

During this week’s media day ahead of Saturday’s event, Pyfer argued against fighting someone outside the top 15. 

“I come from nothing. I come from being dirt poor, f—ng gathering change to get the things that I needed. Trying to figure out a lot of things in life that I didn’t have the guidance for, unfortunately,” he explained. 

“And if I’m going to fight the top 15, which are the baddest men in the world, I want to start working towards financial security. And I will risk my health, my body, everything, my mind, so I can secure that. 

“I do not want to be one of these guys that is done fighting and is broken-hearted that is giving his everything for the minimum.” 

‘I’m very realistic’

Pyfer clarified that he was not expressing displeasure towards his UFC salary. But he also said he has confidence in what he can bring. 

“I’m not complaining about what I’m getting paid. I’m fighting a guy who’s 45, 46th. Abdul’s a bad motherf—r. That’s the thing that’s scary about this fight. I’m very realistic. I know I’m better than him everywhere. But could he beat me? Absolutely. 

MMA: UFC 287 - Meerschaert vs Pyfer Apr 8, 2023; Miami, Florida, USA; Gerald Meerschaert (red gloves) fights Joe Pyfer (blue gloves) during UFC 287 at Miami-Dade Arena. Miami Miami-Dade Arena Florida USA, EDITORIAL USE ONLY PUBLICATIONxINxGERxSUIxAUTxONLY Copyright: xRichxStorryx 20230408_szo_fw1_0107
IMAGO | Rich Storry / USA Today

“Do I think he’s gonna beat me? Absolutely not. But I will dare to be bold and say the things I’m confident in.”

Pyfer says he will fight the UFC’s top middleweights eventually. And he is open to having a conversation with the top brass, especially if he ends up with a win this weekend. 

“You want me to fight top 15 guys? Let’s talk real money. That’s it, that’s all. I want to be a superstar, I have the charisma, I have the confidence, I have the fight style. I have it all. But I want to know that I’m OK if I ever have to retire early, or quit this sport, or whatever. I’m injury prone, so I got to keep that in mind. 

“Let’s talk after this. Let me finish this motherf—r, let’s talk.” 

UFC champ Sean O’Malley once took the same approach

Joe Pyfer isn’t the first UFC fighter to take on such a stance. Back in 2021, Sean O’Malley also refused fights against ranked opponents. Here was his reason: 

“Next fight, a lot of people want me to fight someone ranked. They wanted me to fight someone ranked last fight. I was supposed to fight Luis Smolka. 

“For me, I have a contract to fight a certain amount of fights and I only get paid a certain amount of money whether I fight Louis Smolka, the dude I was supposed to fight, or I fight Petr Yan, the number one bantamweight in the UFC,” he explained. “I get paid the same. 

“I’m gonna fight [the lower ranked fighter] and I’m going to fight this dude on a Conor McGregor pay-per-view.”

Safe to say, O’Malley’s approach worked well for him. Three wins later, he’s at the top of the UFC’s bantamweight division as its reigning champion. 

The UFC Vegas 80 card

Headlining the Saturday night card is a lightweight fight between Grant Dawson and Bobby Green. Dawson (20-1-1) is on a three-fight win streak, with his most recent victory in July against Damir Ismagulov. 

Green’s last win also happened in July against Tony Ferguson, whom he submitted late in the third round. His record stands at 30-14-1 (with 1 NC). 

Also part of the card is a welterweight bout between Alex Morono and Joaquin Buckley and a lightweight fight between Drew Dober and Ricky Glenn. 

You know you can count on us for quick, consistent quality UFC coverage. Bloody Elbow is an independent, reader supported publication. Please subscribe to our newsletter to keep up with our best work and learn how you can support the site.

Join the new Bloody Elbow

Our Substack is where we feature the work of writers like Zach Arnold, John Nash and Connor Reubusch. We’re fighting for the sport, the fighters and the fans. Please help us by subscribing today.

Share this story

About the author
Milan Ordoñez
Milan Ordoñez

Milan Ordoñez has been covering combat sports since 2012 and has been part of the Bloody Elbow staff since 2016. He’s also competed in amateur mixed martial arts and submission grappling tournaments.

More from the author

Bloody Elbow Podcast
Related Stories