UFC 248 is next weekend. Headlined by middleweight champ “The Last Style Bender” Israel Adesanya defending his belt against “The Soldier of God” Yoel Romero. A second title fight in the co-main event features “Magnum” Weili Zhang making her first title defense against Polish former champ Joanna “JJ” Jedrzejczyk. With no disrespect intended to these amazing martial artists, this article is going to focus on UFC newcomer and prelim headliner “Sugar” Sean O’Malley who will make his long-awaited return to the octagon next Saturday.
Dana White’s Contender Series(DWCS) has proven to be a great way to scout talent. Most fighters that win the prize contracts from the show tend to bite off more than they can chew in the UFC. Other times Dana White and the UFC have struck gold. Other than heavyweight Ex-NFL player Greg Hardy, the brightest draw might be fighting in the bantamweight division. “Sugar” Sean O’Malley, a very fresh face at only 25 years young, is 2-0 in the UFC. The more recent victory is all it took to give “The Sugar Show” the push towards superstardom he may need.
In a competitive three-round fight against fellow bantamweight prospect, Andre Soukhamthath, these caged warriors put on a show. O’Malley standing at 5’11, rather tall for the division, kept his opponent at bay with a variety of strikes. Frustration began to build for Soukhamthath as he couldn’t get much offense going nor could he seem to keep O’Malley on the ground. “Sugar Sean” showed fans what got him his spot on the roster by displaying a wide range of kicks. High kicks, low kicks, and spinning kicks alike, you just couldn’t tell what the young man from Montana was going to throw.
All was going according to plan for O’Malley until a blocked kick in the third round all but destroyed Sean’s ankle. O’Malley was not able to put weight on the injured ankle let alone stand up at fight. Did that stop the fight? Did Sean make it all this way just to give in to a bum ankle? No way Jose. O’Malley continued to keep his opponent at a distance. Showing obvious pain whenever he stepped on the injured extremity. Fortunately for Sean, the fight spent the final couple minutes on the ground. Unable to stand to get his hand raised, O’Malley was surrounded by coaches and doctors on the canvas as he heard that he got the decision victory. When approached by Joe Rogan post-fight, O’Malley as loud as he could roar yelled, “WELCOME TO THE SUGAR SHOWWWWWWW!” and the rest is yet to be written.
Very rarely can we tell who’s up next? There are so many ifs, ands, or buts about predicting the future of athletes, especially MMA fighters. All it takes is one bad injury or one bad loss to totally derail a hype-train beyond repair. Sean O’Malley will compete against Jose Alberto Quinonez, almost two years exactly after O’Malley’s last fight and the ankle injury. How they kept someone like Sean O’Malley off the main card is crazy to me. But the headlining spot on the prelims will have to do. Every, so many years an athlete will enter their respective sports with all kinds of expectations and criticisms.
Sean O’Malley brings a breath of fresh air into the bantamweight division. Someone with his type of talent matched with charisma is from a rare breed. What separates the stars from the prospects is results. With a professional record of 10-0, 2-0 in the UFC, the production is there outside of the big leagues. After an almost two-year absence, the aforementioned ankle should be good to go. “Sugar Sean” will look to get the Sugar Show back on track this weekend. Being so young with so much time off, we may see a real deal star in the making. A highlight reel caliber finish should get Sugar Sean back into the main cards of events.
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