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Fight Archives: 18-year-old Sean O’Malley thrills hometown crowd in MMA debut

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A prelude to “The Sugar Show.”

I’d say the most enjoyable thing about doing this series is seeing fighters evolve from raw talents to superstars in their own right. Some of them do live up to the hype, while there are others who end up falling from grace.

But that middle part of the journey is what I find most fascinating. It’s a lot less pressure and a lot more proving yourself and silencing critics. And it is exactly where 25-year-old Sean O’Malley is right now.

What separates “Sugar” Sean from the pack is his self-belief. His UFC 250 performance against Eddie Wineland alone spoke volumes of how much confidence he has in his abilities. He was calculated, calm, and collected from the opening second to the walk-off knockout at the 1:54 mark of round one.

That level of swagger was already showing itself during O’Malley’s MMA debut in 2013. Sure, he wasn’t the switch-hitting, one-punch finisher that he is today, and his gas tank needed a lot of work. But for an 18-year-old competing in MMA for the very first time, he did well.

O’Malley backfist

Not too shabby for the lanky hometown favorite.

O’Malley will take on his third fight for the year this Saturday at UFC 252 against Marlon Vera. A win could mean bigger, better, and shinier opportunities in 2021.

For now, here’s the same fight with some commentary from the man himself.