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‘Sugar’ Sean O’Malley expected to make Octagon return at UFC 247

The undefeated Contender Series veteran has been sidelined for almost two years battling a foot injury and drug testing issues.

Sean O’Malley in the audience at UFC 227 in 2018. Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Heading into 2018, Sean O’Malley looked poised to be one of the UFC’s hottest prospects. The then 23-year-old hit the Octagon fresh off a flashy first round KO over Alfred Khashakyan, during the inaugural season of Dana White’s Contender Series. He followed that performance with a debut win over Terrior Ware, and a hard fought decision over Andre Soukhamthath just a few months later.

The win against Soukhamthath, however, was just the start of O’Malley’s troubles. In the fight he badly injured his foot, sidelining him for most of the rest of the year. Then, an October booking against Jose Alberto Quinonez ended up scrapped due to a USADA drug test failure, for extremely low levels of ostarine—resulting in a 6-month suspension for a suspected tainted supplement.

Unfortunately, 2019 would go no better for O’Malley. Following his first suspension, a planned July booking against Marlon Vera had to once again be cancelled. The culprit? Much like Jon Jones, O’Malley appeared to be suffering from a ‘pulsing’ effect of the ostarine—leading to more drug testing irregularities. And while this time USADA didn’t suspend him, the Nevada Commission (NSAC) still felt they needed to pull the plug on his upcoming fight.

Delays from the NSAC and a packed UFC schedule have since pushed O’Malley’s return to the cage all the way back to 2020, and the UFC 247 PPV—where Jon Jones is expected to take on Dominick Reyes in the main event, on February 8th. That’s the date O’Malley posted on Instagram, that he’ll take on Jose Alberto ‘Teco’ Quinonez.

O’Malley and Quinonez were originally scheduled to face off at UFC 229: Khabib vs. McGregor, before ‘Sugar’ Sean’s first drug test failure. In the time since, Quinonez has faced Nathaniel Wood and Carlos Huachin—losing to the former by second round submission, and defeating the latter via unanimous decision.

UFC 247: Jones vs. Reyes is set to take place at the Toyota Center, in Houston, TX. Outside of the light heavyweight title fight in the main event, the card is expected to feature a women’s flyweight title fight—with champion Valentina Shevchenko defending her belt against Katlyn Chookagian. Bantamweight bouts between Jimmie Rivera & Marlon Vera, and Miles Johns & Mario Bautista are also scheduled for the card.