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Sean O’Malley, Chael Sonnen offer Cory Sandhagen advice on seeking UFC fame

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Sean O’Malley offered some advice to Cory Sandhagen after the bantamweight contender said he was looking for some “famous guy leverage” to get better opportunities in his career.

As he recovers from a pair of surgeries on his arm, Sandhagen joked he might need to get face tattoos – or start hanging out with famous rappers – so he could earn preferential treatment from the UFC. The comments were made after Sandhagen addressed his past fight booking with Umar Nurmagomedov, who holds a perfect 4-0 resume in the UFC but hasn’t yet established himself against the best fighters in the division.

“[Umar] has famous guy leverage, good on him,” Sandhagen said referencing Nurmagomedov’s famous last name. “I’m going to try to scoop up some of that famous leverage this year so that there’s no question, ‘Cory fights for the belt next.’”

That caught the attention of the UFC bantamweight champion, who is preparing to defend his title in a rematch against Chito Vera in March at UFC 299. He fired back at Sandhagen with a harsh reminder that winning the marquee fights would make a bigger difference in his push for a title shot.

“Face tat might help,” O’Malley wrote on Twitter. “[Knocking out Aljamain Sterling] or beating [Petr Yan] might help also. I don’t know.”

Of course, the two fights O’Malley referenced are opponents he defeated – both of whom hold wins over Sandhagen in the past.

O’Malley beat Petr Yan to earn a bantamweight title shot and then knocked out Aljamain Sterling to claim the belt this past August. Meanwhile, Sandhagen suffered a first-round submission loss to Sterling and then fell to Yan in a five-round decision for the interim bantamweight title.

Multi-time UFC title challenger Chael Sonnen later chimed in when addressing Sandhagen’s remarks about seeking that “famous guy leverage.” He offered a multitude of responses — almost all in the form of a rhyming poem — as he took aim at Sandhagen’s game plan.

Sonnen had some fun with Sandhagen, but there’s not much subtlety in O’Malley’s message. Because for all the grief he caught about being spoon-fed easier competition for most of his UFC career, he won the fights that mattered most.

As for Sandhagen, he’s currently riding a three-fight winning streak and hopes he’ll be considered the next in line for the title after O’Malley clashes with Vera at UFC 299.

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