The “Suga Show” returned at UFC 269, and while Sean O’Malley wasn’t fighting a ranked opponent, he was seeing a step up in competition against Raulian Paiva.
Brazil’s Paiva had been, at one point earlier this year, ranked #15 in the UFC’s bantamweight division. Despite slipping out of the rankings, he was still a tough opponent coming off a win over O’Malley’s teammate Kyler Phillips.
Billing himself as the “Unranked Champion,” O’Malley himself might very well be ranked with a strong performance against Paiva. And a strong performance is definitely what he put on.
It was O’Malley who opened to action, utilizing his length to fire a front kick. Paiva would try to close the distance early, with O’Malley shaking him off. In addition to his kicks, O’Malley fired his jab and switched stances in the early going; O’Malley would then land low — or so it seemed, with replays showing the kick right on the waist line.
Nevertheless, Paiva got a bit of a breather. When they got back underway, Paiva began finding success with leg kicks, which forced O’Malley to switch stances. O’Malley, however, would snap Paiva’s head back with a jab. The pair would trade leg kicks, before O’Malley connected with the jab several more times.
THE SUGA SHOW!!!!!!!!!!
— UFC (@ufc) December 12, 2021
Then, in the final minute, O’Malley rocked Paiva with a right hand! The pinpoint accuracy of O’Malley was immediately on display, as several more punches connected clean on Paiva both before and after he got up from a desperation takedown attempt. A body shot forced Paiva’s hands down, which allowed O’Malley to connect upstairs once again, sending the ref in — Paiva was, frankly, done.
The finishing sequence was, simply put, a thing of beauty.
After the fight, O’Malley revealed that due to injury, he hadn’t grappled or sparred for three weeks, but chose not to pull out of the bout. A gamble that definitely paid off Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Official Result: Sean O’Malley def. Raulian Paiva by TKO, Round 1, 4:32