Although it feels as though the UFC is just treading water while waiting out the pandemic – there isn’t much sense in parading out your best matchups if you’re not allowed to sell tickets — Sean O’Malley certainly spiced up the bantamweight division over the weekend.
O’Malley knocked out Eddie Wineland in 1:54 at UFC 250 in Las Vegas to improve to 12-0 as a pro. The impressive showing earned him one of the $50,000 Performance of the Night bonuses, but O’Malley wants more and sounds eager to earn it.
The UFC bantamweight division is wide open and intriguing
Henry Cejudo held the UFC flyweight and bantamweight championships until announcing his retirement last month. Naturally, that has resulted in some jockeying for position.
Top bantamweight contender Marlon Moraes has been idle for six months, but two featured fights at UFC 250 will affect the immediate future. Second-ranked Aljamain Sterling walloped No. 4 Cory Sandhagen, and ninth-ranked Cody Garbrandt knocked out No. 5 Raphael Assuncao.
And now there’s Sean O’Malley to consider. O’Malley was unranked before the weekend, but knocking out veteran Eddie Wineland improved his record 12-0 and game fans a fresh face to consider.
Respected commentator Joe Rogan opened his post-fight interview with O’Malley by calling his victory “the best walkaway KO I’ve ever seen.”
Sean O’Malley is back on track after two suspensions
“Sugar” Sean O’Malley, 25, is 5-0 since his UFC debut in the Dana White Tuesday Night Contender Series in 2017 and 12-0 overall.
Beating Andre Soukhamthath in March 2018 was the first indication that O’Malley might be something special. Fighting in UFC 222, he gutted out a three-round decision over the former Classic Entertainment & Sports bantamweight champ despite suffering a foot injury late in the bout and being taken from the arena on a stretcher.
In the fall of 2018, O’Malley was scratched from a scheduled fight with Jose Alberto Quinonez and suspended for six months after testing positive for ostarine, part of a class of drugs that has benefits for athletes similar to anabolic steroids. A trace of the same substance was found in his system ahead of his scheduled July 2019 fight against Marlon Vega, triggering another six-month suspension.
O’Malley was finally able to return to the octagon on March 7 of this year for the previously scheduled fight against Quinonez. He scored a TKO in the first round, earning him his first Performance of the Night bonus. He followed up with the UFC 250 victory over Eddie Wineland.
Sean O’Malley is out for a bigger paycheck
Sean O’Malley picked the right time to post his most significant victory to date in the UFC octagon. He thought he’d be negotiating a new deal with Dana White after beating Jose Alberto Quinonez, but the UFC boss has been putting money discussions with everyone – including Jon Jones and Henry Cejudo – on hold during the pandemic.
O’Malley made $80,000 for the fight — Cody Garbrandt collected $260,000 for his win — and was happy to pick up one of the $50,000 bonuses for his UFC victory, though he told commentator Joe Rogan, “I think that was worth 100 G’s rather than 50 G’s.”
Later, O’Malley told mmamania.com that he understands he doesn’t have the leverage that Jones or Cejudo possess. In light of that, he’s willing to be reasonable when he sits down with White to work on a new deal.
“Those guys have had big fights and a lot of fights and big wins,” O’Malley said. “I’m not asking for a lot, like literally what I was asking for was still less than everyone made tonight. I just want it to be fair.” He also wants to get back to action as soon as possible.
O’Malley came out of UFC 250 with a minor shin injury. “But other than that, I’m healthy and ready to go,” he said. “A week, a month. Whatever.”
With the depth of talent in the bantamweight class, O’Malley may have to take a lesser fight before getting a crack at someone in the top 10. The mmamania.com site suggested John Dodson (21-11) as a possibility, but White may need to throw O’Malley the courtesy of a matchup that could boost him into the top 10.