It’s safe to say that the ‘Suga Show’ had a grand re-opening at UFC 260 as Sean O’Malley made his return and picked up an impressive win against Thomas Almeida.
O’Malley put on a striking masterclass throughout his three round bout which ended with yet another highlight reel knockout victory in the third and final round, having learnt his lesson earlier in the fight about walking off before the job was done.
In the first round O’Malley scored a beautiful knockdown and chose to opt for a walk-off knockout win, but the referee refused to wave off the fight and Almeida was able to recover. In the third round when he knocked Almeida down again, he did the same thing and once again the referee didn’t call if off.
So O’Malley literally strolled over to Almeida who was staring at the ceiling and landed one huge right hand to close the show. ‘Suga’ was back with a literal bang.
In his post-fight interview he explained his reasons for going for the walk-off KO and for the flashy techniques he uses. It all matches up quite well with the persona he has created but also with exactly what fans want.
“If I wanted to get on him and get a TKO finish, I could’ve jumped on him and did that in the first round. That’s not what I’m in there for, I’m in there to put people’s lights out and I want to go viral.
“Like I said, I have 15 minutes in there, why end it in three minutes in the first round when I am still having fun in there, I just broke a sweat… I need to get in there and have some fun, you only get to fight a couple of times of a year.”
He earned the viral moment he craved, but more importantly he got himself back in the win column en route to the title that he is targeting. So what next?
As Dana White said, the rematch against Marlon Vera is always there for them. The two fought at UFC 252 and when Vera kicked O’Malley in the leg and made it numb after it affected the nerve, he was able to hand him his first defeat of his career with a knockout in the first round.
Since then Vera has been beaten by Jose Aldo, which could potentially set up a rematch with the two to try and break in towards the top five.
While it’s possible, it seems unlikely right now. O’Malley is a very big name and now that he’s back on the winning trail the UFC will want to continue building him as the superstar he is, so a bigger name is likely to be on his radar.
The name that makes the most sense now is former champion and recently returned Dominick Cruz.
Cruz fought Casey Kenney back at UFC 259 after back-to-back defeats and almost a year away from the octagon. He turned the clock back and showed his fancy footwork and wrestling is still as effective as always with a decision victory and after the fight didn’t call anyone out in particular – other than Monster’s Hans Monlenkamp.
This has left the window open for ‘Suga’ to make his move for a mega-fight, and he’s taken it. Speaking after his fight at UFC 260, O’Malley made his case for a fight against the legendary ‘Dominator’.
With Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor now likely to complete their trilogy at UFC 264 in July, O’Malley wants to place himself in the spotlight by being the co-main event for the fight.
“The second after you fight the question is, who’s next? I heard Dominick Cruz texted Chael Sonnen saying he wanted that fight. So, I don’t know if Chael got a prank text for a fake Dom or if that’s real. That’s a potential matchup.
“I know Dustin Poirier tweeted the other day, July 10, so I think I’m a pretty good co-main event type dude,” O’Malley continued. “Dustin vs. Conor, Suga vs. Dominick, I don’t know, that makes sense, that might be it. July, we’ll see. I definitely want to get in there a couple more times this year.”
The fight would absolutely make a lot of sense for both parties too. Cruz is determined to get back into the title picture after proving he isn’t ready to be seen as a gatekeeper yet, while O’Malley is arguably the most popular fighter in the division right now.
Stylistically it’s an exciting fight for the fans but also it would serve as the perfect co-main event to the Poirier vs McGregor trilogy. O’Malley has previously appeared on the undercard of several top pay-per-views and was scheduled for the McGregor undercard against Donald Cerrone, only for his suspension issues to come to the fore once again.
Now he is back in full flow and with his popularity eerily similar to that of McGregor in his earlier UFC career, it’s a no-brainer to make this bout happen.