Jack Della Maddalena taking anti-Sean O’Malley approach to his UFC career: ‘I always want to fight the best person I possibly can’

Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Jack Della Maddalena knows there’s not a right or wrong way to approach a UFC career.

Bantamweight prospect Sean O’Malley has spoken openly about the money he’s earning versus the level of competition he’s facing and why it doesn’t make much sense to him to seek out top-ranked contenders without getting paid more.

There’s obviously a lot of logic in that approach, and Maddalena doesn’t necessarily disagree. But that’s not how he plans to climb the ranks ahead of his next fight.

“There’s definitely different roads you can take,” Maddalena told MMA Fighting. “Some people want to take a smarter route, take it slow, but I’m a competitive person at heart. I always want to fight the best person I possibly can at that time.

“I’m going to see how it goes, let it fall naturally. But if I get the options, I’m always going to try to take the toughest fight I can take at that time.”

After demolishing Pete Rodriguez in his octagon debut, Maddalena drew Russian sambo specialist Ramazan Emeev at UFC 275.

Emeev has a lot more experience than the Australian welterweight both inside and outside the UFC — and that’s exactly the kind of competition Maddalena wants.

While he certainly wants to be paid for his services, Maddalena also wants to storm through his division as quickly as possible, and that only happens if he continues asking for better and better opponents.

“I want to get to the top as quickly as possible,” he said. “I’m a competitive person and I want to compete with the best people I possibly can.”

As proof that the UFC has faith in Maddalena’s potential, his second appearance in the promotion is currently scheduled as the pay-per-view opener in the first-ever UFC event in Singapore. It’s not a spot he necessarily sought, but he appreciates that the UFC expects big things out of him.

“To be honest, I wasn’t expecting it, but then to see my name on the pay-per-view card is pretty awesome,” Maddalena said. “To me, it really doesn’t change a whole lot. I’ve got a lot of friends coming over to Singapore, so I’m glad they don’t have to get up too early to watch the fight, but apart from that it’s just business as usual for me. Go in there and put on a show.”

Many fighters wait years before earning a spot on pay-per-view, but Maddelena always expected this would happen, especially with the way he has a tendency to put on memorable performances.

“There was never a doubt in my mind that I would get to this spot,” he said. “Now it’s here. To be honest, it’s not extremely surprising to me to be here. At the end of the day, the fight is the most important thing, and if you put me on the first fight or the last fight of the card, I will try to perform the exact same way every single time. It’s something I expected to happen sooner or later, and it’s here now.”

Stylistically, Maddalena might have a tougher time scoring a highlight-reel finish considering Emeev comes from a grappling base and hasn’t finished a fight since 2016.

“I’m ready for whatever he’s going to bring,” Maddalena said. “I definitely feel at some stage in the fight, he’s going to be looking to get in to grapple, but I’m prepared. I’m prepared to fight all these people and beat them all.

“I want to fight all styles. To fight a Russian sambo champion is pretty cool, and it’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life. I think you can be protected in the game and just fight people who are going to be good for your style, but I want to fight everyone. I’m going to fight a wrestler at some stage, so I might as well fight a wrestler early.”

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