UFC 292 marks the return of Sean O’Malley and he will be competing in the biggest fight of his life. He will finally realise a title shot after years of beating men who step in front of him. Sitting at 16-1-0-1, O’Malley’s UFC record is near flawless. With just a single loss on his record, which he disputes, as well as a no-contest, nearly all have fallen at his hands. Not including his contender series knockout, he’s recorded five finishes and three decisions and now we will rank those wins.
Ranking Sean O’Malley’s Wins
The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale – Terrion Ware by Unanimous Decision
Coming off the contender series with a huge amount of hype behind him, Sean O’Malley debuted against Terrion Ware in the co-main event of The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale. Having finished seven of his eight professional wins, many expected to see Suga pick up where he left off on the contender series, with a big knockout.
It wasn’t to be on the night, however. Ware was thoroughly outpointed but never gave up across the full 15 minutes. What we saw from O’Malley was slick footwork, looping straight shots, the ability to switch stance often, as well as a decent takedown game.
What we did see is an early hole in his game, the cardio appeared to be fading in the second round, leading to him being landed on heavily throughout the second five minutes.
Their third round, however, showed O’Malley’s ability to mix the martial arts, take his opponent down, outlast Ware and come away with the win. The performance was far from the one that many believed we would see, however.
UFC 222 – Andre Soukhamthath by Unanimous Decision
After just one fight, O’Malley would make his PPV main card debut. Taking on 17-fight veteran Andre Soukhamthath, many believed this would be O’Malley’s coming out party. Was the decision victory in his debut just a blip? We would find out at UFC 222.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t. O’Malley outstruck Soukhamthath 73-42 in an extremely lacklustre fight, and another hole in his game was exposed. His body reacts badly to lower leg kicks. A leg injury in this one could have seen the end of O’Malley’s winning run if The Asian Sensation had better fight IQ. Instead of attacking the leg when he had O’Malley hurt, he tried to take him down, ruining an opportunity for a big victory.
An underwhelming fight all around.
UFC 264 – Kris Moutinho by Round Three Knockout
Now on paper, this one looks like a great win. If we just look at the facts and the stats, it looks like a dominant win. O’Malley outstruck Moutinho 230-70 on total strikes and secured the third-round finish. It’s the context that has this fight so far down on the list.
UFC 292’s title challenger was scheduled to fight Louis Smolka, however, Da Last Samurai had to withdraw from the fight citing an injury. Moutinho was a promotional newcomer, a man who had a walk-forward style and very little defence. His next UFC fight ended by first-round TKO at the hands of Guido Cannetti, proving that he’s susceptible to being finished. The O’Malley fight earned fight of the night honours, proving that it was a competitive bout. O’Malley really should be finishing someone of Moutinho’s calibre early on in the bout.
UFC 248 – Jose Quinonez via Round 1 TKO
18-0. This is the number of strikes landed by O’Malley in comparison to Jose Quinonez. Before this fight, Quinonez had never been knocked out, however, the Mexican couldn’t handle the power of the American.
Ultimately, it was the speed and ability to avoid Quoinonez’s strikes that lead to O’Malley winning the fight. Having not been landed on at all throughout the fight, O’Malley finished things following a huge high kick that knocked his opponent into the fence. As Quinonez was attempting to get back to his feet, a huge uppercut landed, keeping him grounded and O’Malley landed vicious ground and pound to get it done in one.
A one-sided fight when many thought that it could be competitive.
UFC 269 – Raulian Paiva via Round 1 TKO
The always-game Raulian Paiva was entering his UFC 269 bout against Sean O’Malley on a good run of form. He was enjoying three back-to-back victories and having moved up in weight to bantamweight, it appeared that Paiva had found his correct division.
Paiva had just scored a big underdog win against Kyler Phillips and many believed that he could ask O’Malley questions and take him into the later rounds, comparatively.
The upcoming title challenger had a different view on the fight, however. Get in there, dominate, get out. And that’s exactly what he did. O’Malley’s speed, quick reactions and precise shot selection saw an early night for Paiva.
The American dominated the octagon and landed his famous overhand right which was the beginning of the end. After that, it was game over. O’Malley’s killer instinct kicked in, landing huge unanswered hooks and uppercuts until the referee had seen enough.
UFC 260 – Thomas Almeida via Round 3 Knockout
The O’Malley performance at UFC 260 against Thomas Almeida is undoubtedly a good one. A third round knockout over a guy who was, at one time, highly regarded can’t be bad. He dominated each and every minute of the fight up until the finish.
He was a step ahead of Almeida at every point in the fight and a pair of big knockdowns lead to a brutal finish. With the Brazillian all but knocked out lying on the canvas, the American landed a devastating blow, separating Almeida from consciousness and cementing a big, dominant victory.
UFC 280 – Petr Yan via Split Decision
Despite being a close fight, it’s the calibre of the opponent that made this one of O’Malley’s greatest wins. The fight was a back and forth war between two men who were willing to leave it all out there in order to get the win.
O’Malley became the first person to truly hurt Yan, stinging him with looping long straights and utilising his reflexes to counter the best boxer at bantamweight. It wasn’t as though Yan didn’t have any success. He was able to hurt O’Malley too, take him down six times with varying success and dominate throughout large periods of the fight.
It was Sugar, however, that got his hand raised and shot himself into title contention. He landed the more eye-catching shots, stung No Mercy with his jab and cut Yan during the third round.
A great performance from O’Malley topped off with a fight of the night bonus for both men.
UFC 250 – Eddie Wineland via Round 1 KO
Without a doubt, a knockout that we have all seen multiple times and rightfully so is O’Malley’s big knockout over Eddie Wineland. A fight that didn’t make sense when it was made played out how many believed it would, with Sugar getting his hand raised. What did surprise many, however, is the devastating fashion in which he won the bout.
After truly dominating across the first minute and a half, O’Malley threw a spinning heel kick, narrowly missing his opponent. He bounced back in a huge way, however. He dummied the uppercut and landed one of the most devastating overhands in UFC history, instantly knocking Wineland out.
3 years ago today, Sean O’Malley slept Eddie Winelandpic.twitter.com/MTaifeK6QK
— MMA Mania (@mmamania) June 6, 2023
Without a doubt, O’Malley’s best performance to date. Could we see another big one at UFC 292? We’ll have to wait and see.