Sean O'Malley returns to action during International Fight Week at UFC 276 at the T-Mobile Arena to take on Pedro Munhoz. This is the biggest test of O'Malley's career, as he's competing against a veteran that's fought the best of the division. Munhoz is currently ranked 9th in the Bantamweight division. With a win, O'Malley will likely move into the top 10. From being a top prospect to a rising contender, O'Malley has made a name for himself over the years. Let's take a look into Sean O'Malley's fast rise to stardom.
UFC fans were introduced to Sean O'Malley through Dana White's Contender Series in July of 2017. O'Malley displayed his striking skillset along with the unique power he possesses at Bantamweight. He defeated his opponent in the first round by knockout. The ability to make his opponent miss while countering with some nice shots at such a young age is what impressed everyone in attendance. It was at this point where Dana White and Sean Shelby knew that Sean O'Malley had superstar potential.
Sean O'Malley made his UFC debut in December of 2017 when he fought Terrion Ware. Even though it did not end in a finish, O'Malley showed he can still put on a great performance by going the distance. He landed 141 signifcant strikes throughout three rounds. He landed 50 or more signifcant strikes in rounds two and three, which is above average for UFC fighters. O'Malley would defeat Ware by unamious decision marking a successful debut.
After defeating Andre Soukhamthath in March of 2018 at UFC 222, Sean O'Malley had a 2 year absence from the Octagon. He made his return at UFC 248 and made a statement by defeating Jose Alberto Quinonez by TKO in the first round. O'Malley returned with vicious intentions as he looked fast and crisp on the feet. He would make a quick turnaround 3 months later.
He competed at UFC 250 against veteran Eddie Wineland. In what many thought was a step up in competition, O'Malley passed with flying colors. He finished Wineland by knockout in the first round and earned Performance of the Night honors. Wineland was hesitant on the feet due to the length and counter ability from O'Malley and it showed at the end. At this point, O'Malley was undefeated, winning 12 consecutive fights in his professional career.
With the hype train continuing to gain traction, Marlon Vera accepted the challenge to fight Sean O'Malley at UFC 252. While never facing adversity in his young UFC career, O'Malley finally dealt with some that night. As the first round started, both fighters were trying to get a feel for each othr. After finding distance, O'Malley started to pick his shots. A few nice body kicks while damaging the lead leg of Vera. Unfortunately, a rare injury occured to O'Malley midway through the first round when Vera clipped the nerve of O'Malley with a leg kick. O'Malley's leg was compromised and Vera took advantage by scoring a TKO victory against O'Malley handing him his first career loss. He would take the rest of the 2020 off to recover.
Sean O'Malley was poised to have a breakout year in 2021 and he did just that. It started at UFC 260 when he returned to the Octagon against Thomas Almeida. There was some questions surrounding the durability of O'Malley and taking damage to his legs, but he answered them in this fight. While absorbing 13 leg strikes, it was not an issue as he continued to put on a show. O'Malley scored two knockdowns and delivered the final knockout blow in the third round to earn the win.
O'Malley would then return at UFC 264 to fight late notice replacement, Kris Moutinho. He did not hold back as he broke several records with this fight; one of them recording the most significant strikes landed in the first round (89) in a Bantamweight fight. Herb Dean put a stop to the fight in the third round as O'Malley continued to damage Moutinho. The significant strike differential was 230 to 70, in favor of O'Malley while landing at 72%.
In his most recent fight, O'Malley would fight at UFC 269 against Raulian Paiva. Trying to end the year off on a strong note, O'Malley wanted to make it three wins in-a-row and enter the top 15 rankings for the Bantamweight division and he did just that. In front of a sell-out crowd at the T-Mobile Arena, O'Malley defeated Paiva in the first round by knockout. The quickness and slick boxing was the determining factor as it earned him his sixth post-fight bonus in the UFC.
As of now, 75.2% of the Verdict Community predicts Sean O'Malley will defeat Pedro Munhoz at UFC 276. This fight will open up the main card.