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The two UFC champions recently had an online exchange where Pantoja, champion at 125 pounds, called for a fight with O’Malley, champion at 135 pounds, reminding him of a sparring session they had in 2017. O’Malley replied, claiming that he knocked out Pantoja in that session before getting gassed and losing rounds to the Brazilian.
Pantoja now has told his side of the story.
“Nobody talks about training because we’re professionals, but O’Malley is the one that started talking about training before,” Pantoja told Sherdog. “I think two or three years ago, he started talking about his training when I went to Arizona. At that moment I was training with Henry Cejudo and I went to Arizona. I traveled like 15 hours and I go to Arizona and the next day I go to train at The Lab. I trained with John Moraga and O’Malley.
“That day was a hard day for me because that was a long travel and I had jet lag, and I made a terrible training. When the training was over, I told Henry, ‘Henry, I want to train here next week. I want to be back here next week because I’m not training good today. I want to show these guys I have much more.’”
Pantoja says he went to The MMA Lab in Arizona the following week and trained again with O’Malley. “Suga” asked if he could record the sparring session, which Pantoja agreed, but after allegedly beating up O’Malley, he never got the video.
“I went with Cejudo next week and O’Malley came to train with me, he came to do three rounds,” Pantoja said. “That day I just trained with O’Malley and I beat him too much. In the second round he tried to leave saying, ‘Hey, I’m done,’ and at that point we said, ‘No, finish the training with three rounds and that’s it.’ When he came back, he had no cardio and I put him down and went to mount and punished him a lot. He says he beat me, but he has the video. I thought he was a nice kid and asked me if he could record the training, and I said of course. I told him to send me the video after the training, and he said yes, but he never sent me the video.”
Pantoja is currently scheduled to make his first title defense on the final pay-per-view of the year. He takes on Brandon Royval in the co-main event of UFC 296 on Dec. 16 in Las Vegas.
Pantoja is focused on his title defense, but wouldn’t mind going up a division to pursue champ-champ status against O’Malley in the future.
“If Dana White wants me to fight O’Malley, I’m ready,” Pantoja said. “Everyone wants to fight this guy now, and I have a good history with him. I beat him one time, but that was training. Now I can make money doing that.”