This past Saturday at UFC 269, The Suga Show kicked off the main card. Sean O’Malley (15-1) took on Raulian Paiva (21-4). Both men were just on the outside of the rankings and were looking to crack the top fifteen.
The fight was expected to be a good test for O’Malley. Paiva had just defeated the highly regarded Kyler Phillips who is also one of O’Malley’s training partners. His overall skills presented a unique challenge for O’Malley.
In the first round, O’Malley circled a lot on the outside and seemed a tad gun shy. However, upon reflection, he was mainly just trying to gauge the timing of Paiva. There was no rush from O’Malley on Saturday night.
In the second half of the first round, O’Malley really turned it on. He timed a perfect right hand that hurt Paiva badly and once Paiva was hurt, he was given no time to recover.
O’Malley pounced and unleashed massive shots. He timed a beautiful body shot that lowered Paiva’s hands before delivering the finishing blow up top. It was a perfect performance from O’Malley at UFC 269.
What’s next after UFC 269?
O’Malley revealed after the fight that he nearly pulled out of UFC 269 with a rib injury. He also suffered a hand injury during the fight which could keep him on the shelf for a couple of months.
However, whenever he’s ready to go, the UFC needs to bump up the competition level. In my opinion, O’Malley is already in a position to take on someone in the top ten.
However, I think he will continue to stay patient and gradually increase the competition level. When thinking of potential next opponents, there’s another prospect that makes too much sense.
Right next to O’Malley in the UFC rankings is Song Yadong (18-5-1). Song is a very highly regarded young bantamweight and he would definitely test The Suga Show. A win over Song could put O’Malley just a couple of fights away from a potential UFC title shot.