Sean O’Malley’s Ascent: From Unknown Prospect to UFC Star

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Every time the tale of Sean O’Malley is recounted, a caveat need to be included: No matter how much you want to fight and despise school, don’t do what he did. It’s likely not going to work out.

For O’Malley, who left high school midway through his sophomore year because he was fed up with wasting time, everything has turned out quite well. After attending what he described as “sort of a boot camp” to earn his GED, he was kicked out and enrolled in a “alternative high school.” At one time he was also fond of gambling, particularly fond of EU casinos for UK players.

Career Highlights

O’Malley receives coaching from his close buddy Tim Welch and trains at The MMA Lab in Glendale, Arizona, under the direction of head trainer John Crouch.

One of O’Malley’s MMA teachers in Montana gave him the moniker “Sugar” early in his career.

Prior to moving to compete in North Dakota and later joining Legacy Fighting Alliance, O’Malley fought his first five fights of the professional career in his home state of Montana. There, he defeated David Nuzzo in a highlight-reel knockout.

Following his victory against Nuzzo, O’Malley faced Alfred Khashakyan on Dana White’s Contender Series 2 to earn a berth. After a spectacular first-round knockout victory over Khashakyan, O’Malley was given a UFC contract.

Ultimate Fighting Championship

At The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale on December 1, 2017, O’Malley made his professional debut against Terrion Ware. By unanimous decision, O’Malley prevailed in the battle.

Against March 3, 2018, O’Malley took against Andre Soukhamthath at UFC 222. He hurt his foot in the third round, yet the judges unanimously decided to give him the victory. Both fighters received a Fight of the Night bonus for this battle.

On October 6, 2018, O’Malley was scheduled to face José Alberto Quiñónez at UFC 229. On September 30, O’Malley, however, declared that he was withdrawing from the fight because he could have violated the anti-doping policy. O’Malley underwent hip surgery on October 25 while he awaited the outcome of his possible infraction. O’Malley then tested positive for ostarine, and the NSAC punished him for six months. He was granted permission to return in March 2019.

On July 6, 2019, O’Malley was supposed to take on Marlon Vera at UFC 239. On June 21, 2019, O’Malley, however, declared his withdrawal from the fight because of an ostarine test that was negative. Because of the failed test, the Nevada State Athletic Commission chose to suspend him, and USADA banned him for six months. He probably still had ostarine in his system from the failed test he took before UFC 229, which he failed.

On March 7, 2020, O’Malley squared off against José Alberto Quiñónez at UFC 248. By TKO in the opening frame, he prevailed in the bout. He won his first Performance of the Night prize with this victory.

At UFC 250 on June 6, 2020, O’Malley squared off against Eddie Wineland, the former WEC Bantamweight Champion. He knocked out the opponent with a single blow in the opening frame. He was awarded Performance of the Night for this victory.

On August 15, 2020, O’Malley squared off against Marlon Vera in the co-main event of UFC 252. He would eventually lose the bout in the first round via TKO. After Vera kicked him in the leg, he was subsequently diagnosed with drop foot.

On March 27, 2021, O’Malley competed against Thomas Almeida at UFC 260. O’Malley punched Almeida unconscious during the opening round, and he left the fight believing that Almeida was down cold. In spite of this, he prevailed by third-round knockout. He was awarded Performance of the Night for this victory.

Against July 10, 2021, O’Malley was supposed to take against Louis Smolka at UFC 264. But in late June, Smolka withdrew from the bout due to an injury, and Kris Moutinho, a promotional rookie, took his place. After outstriking Moutinho with strong blows throughout the first three rounds, he won the fight via TKO in the third. He was awarded Fight of the Night for this battle.

O’Malley competed against Raulian Paiva at UFC 269 on December 11, 2021. He was the first to finish the fight by TKO. O’Malley also received his fourth Performance of the Night bonus for the victory.

On July 2, 2022, O’Malley competed against Pedro Munhoz at UFC 276. Munhoz was unable to continue when O’Malley unintentionally jabbed him in the eye early in the second round. It was decided that there was no contest.

On October 22, 2022, at UFC 280, O’Malley squared up against former UFC Bantamweight Champion Petr Yan. By split decision, he prevailed in the fight. Many combatants and fans expressed their conviction that Yan was the legitimate winner, making the outcome of the match very contentious. Twenty-five of the twenty-six media sources gave Yan the win. The Fight of the Night bonus was awarded to the match.

UFC Champion at Bantamweight

On August 19, 2023, at UFC 292, O’Malley squared off against Aljamain Sterling for the UFC Bantamweight Championship. Early in the round, he was the winner via technical knockout in the second round. He received another Performance of the Night bonus as a result.

On March 9, 2024, at UFC 299, O’Malley is slated to defend his championship for the first time against Marlon Vera.

Five: Extreme

On December 12, 2019, O’Malley participated in Quintet: Ultra as a part of Team UFC. Back then, bookmakers were giving great odds and even best free spins bonuses on it. In his first-round submission against Takanori Gomi, he used a guillotine choke; nevertheless, Héctor Lombard later submitted him with an ankle lock. The group proceeded to the following round, where they met Team Strikeforce. He and former Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez drew in that round, ending with their elimination from the competition. The event was ultimately won by Team UFC.

Industries in Grappling

On September 20, 2020, O’Malley also competed in Grappling Industries Phoenix’s 155lbs Advanced No-gi class. He finished third in a seven-man competition, barely falling short against Robert Degle, the eventual victor.

Underground Submission

On behalf of O’Malley, Chael Sonnen issued an open challenge for his promotion’s event on December 20, 2020. James Gallagher responded to O’Malley’s challenge by challenging him to a grappling battle at the SUG event. According to reports, O’Malley turned down the fight, leaving Gallagher without a rival.

A Matter of Chance

O’Malley didn’t see why he had to stuff his mind with so many things that, as soon as he left the house, he would forget because he viewed the world in black and white.

He was first exposed to fighting by a friend, and he was immediately hooked and didn’t want to do anything else. Well, there was a different story in school.

A few days before to taking on Andre Soukhamthath in a featherweight match on the main event of UFC 222 on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, the 23-year-old stated, “I just didn’t like school, you know.” I remember thinking at the moment, ‘This is meaningless.'” I disagree with what we are learning. I believed it was a waste of time and that I ought to have been working on another project.

That something else was fighting, and in an astonishingly little amount of time, he became well-known. You won’t find many outstanding boxers from Helena, Montana, no matter how hard you search, but O’Malley chuckles and asks, “Well, what about me?”

Even though he is 9-0 and 1-0 in the UFC, he still has a ways to go before he is regarded as exceptional. However, he has shown to be an intriguing, unconventional combatant. His May 5th, LFA 11 head kick knockout of David Nuzzo is still one of the most incredible finishes you’ll ever witness.

Peculiarities of Behavior on the Ringing

O’Malley frequently employs spin manoeuvres, and this one gave the impression that he would toss his right hand backwards in a spinning fist. It wasn’t the hand, but it was a right all the same. He kicked Nuzzo in the face as he whirled, bringing up his right foot. The referee pushed O’Malley away, Nuzzo collapsed in a heap, and legend was created.

Sean O'Malley Pink Hair

Roy Jones was a terrific fighter, and he respected him mostly for his unpredictable nature. O’Malley was displaying a great deal of unpredictability as he was winning. At five and eleven, he is remarkably tall for a bantamweight, with a long and slender build.

It’s simple to recognise his talent in his current work. In July in Las Vegas, he defeated Alfred Khashakyan in the first round of the “Dana White Contender Series” event, earning him a seat in the UFC.

With a conventional forward motion and his right hand behind the jab, Khashakyan made an early breakthrough. However, his fighting technique depended on his ability to predict his opponent’s movements and where his blows would land.

But since O’Malley didn’t know, he couldn’t possibly know. He moved left, shifted right, shifted his weight, threw kicks when he should have been punching, and went high when it appeared he would go low because he was acting on instinct.

After tossing Khashakyan at O’Malley all night, he finally shattered him with his extremely straight right hand. Referee Mark Smith immediately stopped it as Khashakyan slumped to the ground. White sprung out of his chair and gaily strolled about, seeming amazed at what he had witnessed, his mouth hanging open and jaw gaping.

Khashakyan found it difficult to protect himself since he was not quite as swift as O’Malley and he was never sure where the latter would be at any given moment. It’s how O’Malley started, and even though he moved to The MMA Lab in Glendale, Arizona, to train under the esteemed John Crouch, it’s still the fundamental technique he employs to this day.

When he was fifteen or sixteen years old, a buddy from Helena called while he and his family were vacationing in Utah.

Despite the fact that I knew nothing about fighting, I answered “yes, sure” when he asked whether I wanted to visit a fighting gym, according to O’Malley. “Yet I never stopped going because I loved it.”

Still, he was clueless as to what to do. He had no idea what orthodox and southpaw stances were, nor did he understand the notion of footwork. He followed his instincts and discovered that they were effective, so he carried on.

Even though he didn’t enjoy studying, fighting taught him things about himself that he would never have discovered in a classroom.

He acknowledges, “I have no idea what I would be doing if I wasn’t fighting.” “But even if I couldn’t fight, I now know that I could become skilled at something else and pursue that as a career. The fact that I have learned how to fight and what it takes to get better and improve is enough.” That’s what fighting, not school, taught me.

“I’ve learnt the most from “taking the fighting road.” I developed a healthy diet. I became aware of proper body care practices. Fighting undoubtedly benefitted me more than schooling ever could have because I’ve learnt how to do all these things to simply become a better person”.

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