UFC bantamweight “Sugar" Sean O’Malley is colourful. From his face to his fists, and from his confident language to his exciting style in the Octagon, O’Malley has become one of the fastest rising superstars on the UFC roster.
With hair that changes colour every time he fights, O’Malley delivers technical and blindingly fast skills that make him an exciting fighter to follow. He’s built up an impressive array of striking techniques like spinning back fists and he’s able to switch his stance from orthodox to southpaw at will. Additionally, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu purple belt has a few early submissions on his resume to prove that his grappling transitions very well into MMA.
O’Malley seems to have burst into Octagon stardom lately, however his success has come from a surprising amount of matches for such a young man; he’s got a total of 25 MMA bouts at only 26 years of age. He put in hard work on the regional amateur scene at the start of his MMA journey, amassing a record of 9-2 over the course of just two years. After turning professional, O’Malley’s excellent finishing ability both from strikes and submissions earned him a fight on feeder league LFA, where a wheel kick knockout got him the attention that was needed.
So in 2017, he was finally introduced on Dana White’s Contender Series, where just one fight and one first-round knockout landed him with a UFC contract. His star began to ascend with impressive wins in the Octagon over notables Andre Soukhamthath, Jose Quinonez and Eddie Wineland, each of which earned him $50,000USD Fight and Performance of the Night bonuses.
While a freak injury ended up handing him his first loss to Marlon “Chito" Vera in 2020, O’Malley rebounded with another Performance of the Night finish against extremely experienced Thomas Almeida to show that he still has the skills to justify his hype.
At this weekend’s UFC 264, O’Malley was originally set to face Louis Smolka, a pairing with Fight of the Night potential, but Smolka had to pull out at the last moment. Stepping in to fill the vacancy will be UFC newcomer Kris Moutinho (9-4). While this makes for a lot of unknowns, O’Malley will surely look to continue his UFC ascent with another spectacular performance.