Sugar Sean O’Malley’s star continued to ascend, as he scored a unanimous decision victory over Andre Soukhamthath at UFC 222 on Saturday night in Las Vegas, despite being unable to stand by the end of the fight.
O’Malleys magnetic personality and exciting fighting style made him an immediate draw when he began catching eyes on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Fight Series. He only continued to build on that with his Octagon debut victory over Terrian Ware in December. And then he overcame injury to rocket his personality into the stratosphere with his decision win over Soukhamthath.
O’Malley took control of the fight from the opening bell. Immediately shifting back and forth between orthodox and southpaw, O’Malley looked as if he had a hundred fights under his belt. He ducked and feinted tagging Soukhamthath with an assortment of kicks, low, high, and everything in between.
Just when it appeared O’Malley was going head hunting with a spinning kick to the cranium, he’d shift stances, go low, and take out Soukhamthath’s leg. And that was just the first round.
Soukhamthath knew he had to do something different, as he was having trouble finding any sort of rhythm or patter to O’Malley’s attacks, so he stormed across the cage at the opening of round two.
Though that worked for a moment, O’Malley began channeling his inner Anderson Silva, feinting, kicking, and jabbing, hands up and then hands down, until Soukhamthath shot and took him to the canvas. But O’Malley was just as fluid there, quickly attacking with a triangle hold with his legs, although he wasn’t able to cinch it down for the choke.
Soukhamthath did well to get out to side control and attack with elbows, but O’Malley took little damage, nearly secured a guillotine choke, and then took Soukhamthath’s back in a scramble, although there wasn’t enough time left in the round to find a finish.
Just when it looked like O’Malley would run away with the fight, he launched a head kick in the final round that was possibly partially blocked or maybe bounced somewhat off of Soukhamthath’s head or both. When he brought his foot back to the floor, O’Malley couldn’t stand on it and Soukhamthath immediately took him to the canvas.
T hat may have been the wrong move, however, as O’Malley was better able to defend off of his back than he would have been on his one foot, as he could only hop around the one time the fight returned to standing.
When the clock ran out, O’Malley’s undefeated record was intact, moving up to 10-0, following a unanimous decision from the judges. More than the victory, however, O’Malley’s star power increased tenfold as he continued to fight on through the injury and incited the crowd into a frenzy.
“Inside of (my foot), I can’t feel it. It went numb and I couldn’t even stand on it,” O’Malley said after the fight, giving an interview to UFC commentator Joe Rogan while still lying prone on his back. “Yeah, definitely, I could not stand on it.”
Though he was writhing in pain as the fight ended, and obviously still hurting during his post-fight interview, O’Malley’s personality was turned up to 11.
“Thank you to everyone that came out to watch. Welcome to the Sugar Show everybody!”
(Photo courtesy of UFC)