Combat Sports

Sean O’Malley Rides Again vs. Raulian Paiva

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Buckle up, MMA fans: the Suga Show is back, according to Brett Okamoto of ESPN. Sean O’Malley (14-1-0 6-1-0) UFC is due to face Raulian Paiva (21-3-0 4-2-0 UFC) on UFC 269 on December 11th. There is no confirmed location for the bout, but the card is also set to feature Dominick Cruz vs. Pedro Munhoz at bantamweight.

The larger-than-life O’Malley hails from Glendale, Arizona, and first made waves with a one-shot KO of Alfred Khashakyan on Dana White’s Contender Series. An outspoken personality in a sport full of outspoken people, O’Malley is known for his rainbow hair, face tattoos, and highlight-reel KOs, garnering him a large following on social media.

He was immediately signed to the UFC, and after a long USADA-induced layoff following his decision win over Andre Soukhamthath, O’Malley returned to the Octagon with two consecutive first-round knockouts of Jose Quinones and Eddie Wineland, former WEC bantamweight champion. Following his loss to Chito Vera, he defeated Thomas Almeida and Kris Moutinho by third-round knockout, out striking Moutinho 230-70 over the course of three rounds.

Regardless, this fight comes at a crossroads for O’Malley, who has been known to fight lesser opponents as the UFC tries to shepherd him to a title, or so they say. However, he has made short work of most of who he’s fought, including a former champion, and this should be a tough test for him. If he can get past Paiva, the top 15 would surely be calling his name next.

His opponent, Raulian Paiva, has reeled off three straight wins including an upset win over Kyler Phillips in his bantamweight debut. The scores on the scorecards seemed iffy, but Paiva largely outclassed Phillips. Paiva is a fighter who takes things slower and prefers to grapple, winning the majority of his fights via decision. He is slick on the ground, though, having won a handful of fights via submission.

Keys to The Fight

O’Malley is a fantastic striker who is known to pick his opponents apart at distance. He often waits for openings and pounces on them, putting his opponents away with well-timed shots. He will need to be more thoughtful with his shots, avoiding the counter right from Paiva and circling on the outside while coming in for short, powerful combinations.

In Paiva’s case, Chito Vera already provided the blueprint on how to win against O’Malley. Vera was careful with his striking but made sure to pick apart O’Malley’s lead leg, something crucial to stopping his game plan as O’Malley relies upon movement to get in and out of distance and to set up unconventional and unexpected attacks. Without that movement, Paiva would be free to grapple and control the fight at his own pace, something that is key against O’Malley.

How do you see this fight playing out? Let us know in the comments?


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Featured Image Credits to Embed from Getty Images

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I’m a high school student who is a massive sports fan, and I have a passion for writing about the things I love, including MMA.