Las Vegas, NV — “My ankle’s good, if you guys were wondering,” Sean O’Malley proclaimed following UFC 260.
O’Malley, one of the rising stars of the bantamweight division, got back in the win column Saturday night, silencing some doubters in the process. One fight earlier, he’d fallen to Marlon “Chito” Vera, albeit with an apparent leg injury. Whether or not that leg injury was the result of a smart game plan from Vera is something O’Malley has debated, seeing it as more of a fluke injury. Which has led to the young fighter taking a fair amount of heat from the usual corners of the internet.
Following the win over Thomas Almeida, O’Malley had a little celebratory shimmy on the way out of the octagon. “That was a big f*ck you to a lot of people,” O’Malley told media outlets including Cageside Press during the UFC 260 post-fight press conference. “For eight months, I’ve been having to deal with ‘weak ankles.’ So it’s all good.”
A first-round head kick seemed to have signaled the end for Almeida. But though O’Malley walked away from a follow-up left hand with his arms raised, the referee did not call off the fight. That allowed Almeida to recover, going all the way to the third.
“Thomas is tough as nails. He cracked me once at the end of the second round, so I’d have to go back and watch that first knockdown,” noted O’Malley. “But I like that walk-off, as you guys know.”
The third round almost saw a repeat of that exact scenario. Almeida was put down, but the ref didn’t call it. That led to O’Malley landing a massive bomb on a clearly dazed Thomas Almeida, who was essentially defenseless. “That shot, it was unnecessary. I looked his his eyes, he wasn’t there,” admitted O’Malley. “But in the first round, the ref said ‘hey. if I don’t stop it, you’ve got to keep fighting.’ So I had to give him one more 2, a little juicer to the lips.”
Asked if he felt the fight should have been stopped in the first, O’Malley couldn’t say. But the 26-year old did admit that he’s glad it continued. “I’m glad [the ref] didn’t [call it]. I got to go a whole ‘nother round. I love— the amount of times I watch, re-watch my fights is ridiculous. I’m my number one fan. I think that’s why I’ve improved so much. I’ll record every single sparring round I do, and I’ll watch it. I’ll watch it in slow motion. I’ll send sweet clips to my coaches. So the fact that I got to go an extra round and a half, whatever it was, I’m okay with that. Because I’m going to watch it 100 times.”
Saturday marked O’Malley’s first fight as a father. But while some fighters, like Donald Cerrone, have found an added will to win due to fatherhood, O’Malley said simply that “I wanted to win before I had a baby. A lot of people say they want to win more or whatever. I wanted to win bad, I’ve always been competitive.” The “Sugar Show” did admit, however, that with his son waiting for him, “I’m more excited to get home now.”
Watch the full UFC 260 post-fight press conference with Sean O’Malley above.