Daniel Cormier: UFC champ Sean O’Malley ‘continues to improve at a rate that is kind of unmatched’

UFC Hall of Famer Daniel Cormier had a lot of praise for bantamweight champion Sean O'Malley after recording his first title defense at UFC 299 in Miami.

O’Malley swept the scorecards in a rematch against Marlon Vera, avenging a prior loss in 2020. Cormier was impressed with “Sugar’s” performance in which he landed 230 significant strikes over 25 minutes, and believes the fighter we saw at Kaseya Center was much more improved than the one we saw in August when he won the title by stopping Aljamain Sterling at UFC 292.

“From the very start of the fight, you could see that we weren’t watching the same Sean O’Malley that we saw in Boston, and that was only a few months ago,” Cormier said in a video on his YouTube channel. “The guy continues to improve at a rate that is kind of unmatched by many. His angles, his creativity – ‘Chito’ Vera is traditionally a slow starter, but he starts to build as the fight goes on. But Sean never allowed him to.”

O’Malley wanted Vera to be his first title defense so that he could prove the result of their first meeting at UFC 252 was a mistake due to an injury that led to the first-round TKO stoppage.

“He told us that the first fight was a fluke, because he was piecing ‘Chito’ up. It wasn’t as evident as it was tonight,” Cormier said. “Tonight it was very clear that Sean O’Malley was piecing ‘Chito’ up, because that’s exactly what he was doing. He fought beautifully. He was presented a canvas and he painted a masterpiece. His striking was next level.”

Beyond getting his revenge, O’Malley now has a much larger feather in his cap. He performed in front of 19,165 fans at the sold-out Kaseya Center, which brought in a $14.14M gate that broke the UFC’s own record at the venue. It was also the fourth highest-grossing UFC event of all time, according to UFC CEO Dana White.

“So many people didn’t want to give this kid credit for how good he was because it felt like he was getting preferential treatment from the UFC,” Cormier said. “… Not everybody moves the needle like Sean O’Malley. Even if there was preferential treatment, it was because of the company having the foresight to see what Sean O’Malley could be down the line, and now the investment is starting to pay dividends.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 299.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie