Rising UFC bantamweight contender Sean O’Malley has revealed why he expects to fall short of another three-fight year in 2022.
Whilst not matching the years the likes of Charles Oliveira and Kamaru Usman had inside the Octagon in 2021, O’Malley certainly increased his stock and hype with victories over three unranked opponents
Heading into the year, “Sugar” was looking to rebound from his first loss in professional MMA, a setback that came against Marlon “Chito” Vera in August 2020 at UFC 252. In his first appearance of 2021, O’Malley returned to the win column by brutally knocking out the once-highly-touted prospect Thomas Almeida at UFC 260.
Fast forward four months and the 27-year-old was back on a winning streak. After the withdrawal of Louis Smolka, O’Malley was matched up with promotional newcomer Kris Moutinho at UFC 264. On his way to a third-round TKO triumph, the Montana native put in a record-breaking striking performance.
In his third fight of the year, O’Malley recorded his third finish and secured his third post-fight bonus of 2021. At UFC 269, he knocked out formerly ranked bantamweight Raulian Paiva inside the opening round.
O’Malley Says Injury Will Likely Prevent Another 3-Fight Year
Since returning from injury and a USADA suspension in 2020, O’Malley has been an active presence in the division, competing six times since March 2020. However, “Sugar” believes his two-year streak of fitting three fights into both 2020 and 2021 will end in 2022.
During a recent interview with Michael Bisping, O’Malley was seen wearing a cast after injuring his thumb in his last outing against Paiva. Despite being set to get the cast off in the coming days, the #12-ranked bantamweight won’t be rushing back into camp, a level of caution he expects to limit his activity to two appearances in the Octagon across the next 12 months.
“The last two years, I’ve gotten three fights in each year. I think that’s kind of a good pace right now. I’m thinking this year, 2022, I really wanna get three fights in, but I don’t wanna force anything. So, you know, this year might only allow for two, just kind of considering where my thumb’s at right now. It’s not bad, I get the cast off next week, but I don’t wanna push or force any training camps or anything.”
With O’Malley admitting he’s unlikely to make the UFC 272 card in March, “Sugar” expects to wait for the next pay-per-view scheduled for Las Vegas before returning.
With UFC 273 set for New York and rumors that UFC 274 could signal the promotion’s return to Brazil, fans may be waiting until early summer before seeing O’Malley back inside the cage.
Who would you like to see Sean O’Malley face next?