Is there a reason for Sean O’Malley’s removal?

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UFC 239 Removal

UFC 239, the huge International Fight Week card in Las Vegas, is rapidly approaching. However, yet another fight has been taken off this stacked card. The fight I am referring to is Sean O’Malley vs Marlon Vera.

O’Malley was taken off this card by the Nevada Athletic Commission (NSAC) for once again testing positive for trace amounts of ostarine. This is the exact same trace substance O’Malley was already suspended for back in September 2018. Sean was only given a 6 month suspension (from September 2018 to March 2019) instead of the standard two years. This is because he was able to prove that his ingestion of the substance came from a contaminated supplement. USADA has come out and said that they will not sanction O’Malley again. He has already been punished for this substance and it was concluded that this is not giving him any performance advantage.

The NSAC has removed him from the card because there’s not enough time before the fight to have a hearing. This is strange because there is still over a week before this fight takes place. What’s interesting about this case is it’s eerily similar (if not practically identical) to the situation the headliner of UFC 239, Jon Jones, was involved in. But Sean O’Malley and Jon Jones have VERY different outcomes.

The events that happened to Jon Jones:

. Jon Jones tests positive for turinabol during an in-competition test the day before UFC 214.

Jon Jones crying.

. Jones’ win against Daniel Cormier at UFC 214 gets turned into a no contest, he is stripped of his UFC Light Heavyweight Championship, and is fined $205,000. This is Jones’ second substance violation with USADA so he was looking at a 4 year band from fighting. However, during some time later UFC still didn’t have a main event for UFC 230 (Nov. 3rd, 2018 at MSG), a huge card for the promotion. Miraculously, Jon only receives a 15 month suspension for ‘corporation’ with USADA which made him eligible to return in late October 2018 (convenient right?). Jon then turns down a fight at UFC 230 citing he would not be ready by then despite a 15 month layoff. He elects to instead take a main event fight at UFC 232 (another huge card for the UFC) which takes place Dec. 29, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

. Roughly a week before his fight at UFC 232, Jon tests positive again for trace amounts of turinabol (Jones had actually tested positive a few times). USADA comes out and says that this is a ‘pulsing’ affect which means that the substance is stuck in his body and only appears randomly for unknown reasons. They go on to say that the substance gives him no performance advantage. The Nevada Athletic Commission will not license him because they need to have a hearing first and some members of the commission are on ‘holiday’ so they can’t do it before the fight.

This timeline and events sound virtually identical to Sean O’Malley, right? So, Jon Jones should be taken off of the UFC 232 card, right? NOPE!

Sean O'Malley fighting in the octagon

. Dana White (UFC President) says this is unfair to Jones and he shouldn’t be punished by taking this fight away from him. White then (for the first time in UFC history) moves the entire event from Nevada to California with only 6 days until the event takes place. The California Athletic Commission allows the fight to take place.

The takeaway

The move to change states and venues was solely for one fighter and one fighter only, Jon Jones. This negatively effected all the other fighters on the card mentally preparing for their fights and physically by way of trying to cut weight. Not to mention all the fighter’s friends and family who made arrangements to come to the event. Lastly, the fans who paid for the event along with hotel and airfare arrangements.

So will UFC 239 be moved to California for Sean O’Malley? Probably not. These two cases are so similar with very different conclusions. This is beyond egregious by Dana White and the UFC. The Athletic Commissions need to have an answer for this type of situation because of the changes on how USADA is now operating. This will happen again and more often.

Follow the author on Twitter @brian_ebbers.

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