What Happened in the First O’Malley vs Vera Fight?



What Happened in the First O’Malley vs Vera Fight?

The main event of UFC 299 in Miami, Florida won't be the first O'Malley vs Vera fight that we've seen in the octagon. The rivals faced off back in August 2020, when O'Malley was still an undefeated, up and coming prospect with superstar potential written all over him. 

Vera, on the other hand, had just suffered a split decision loss against an opponent that many people thought he beat, and didn't have a fraction of the star power that he has now. 

While the outcome of that fight might surprise you, it stemmed from an exceedingly strange circumstance that rarely occurs in MMA. 

For that reason, we're going to discuss what exactly happened in that first O'Malley vs Vera fight — which ended with the current bantamweight champion suffering the first (and only) loss in his professional MMA career. 

What Happened in the First O'Malley vs Vera Fight?

“Suga” Sean O'Malley and Chito Vera entered the octagon as the co-main event of the UFC 252 PPV card in August 2020, at the height of the pandemic.

There was some bad blood between the two fighters — largely because O'Malley decided to die his hair in the flag colors of Ecuador, Vera's home country, prior to the fight. 

Yet, all of that seemed forgotten once the fight started, as both fighters looked focused as can be. 

There's no doubt that the fight's first two minutes belonged to O'Malley. He looked faster, sharper, and was dealing more damage than Vera — largely with his combination of feints, low kicks, and teep kicks; all of which had Vera fighting on the back foot. 

Then, barely two minutes into the fight, Vera landed a low kick on O'Malley's right leg that clearly affected “Suga”. He reacted awkwardly, and staggered backwards — which seemed especially worrisome, considering that O'Malley was wearing ankle wraps for the fight (which was the result of him breaking his right foot in the fight before Vera.)

After that kick, O'Malley's right leg appeared to have gone limp. He could barely raise it off the octagon canvas, which comprised his movement massively. 

Vero soon noticed the apparent injury, and began going on the attack. Then, with just over 30 seconds left in the first round, O'Malley stumbled to the ground after throwing a punch. 

Vera jumped on him, landed some nasty elbows and punches from top control, and before anybody knew what was happening, Vera had won the fight via TKO.

While the announcers didn't know what had happened to O'Malley in the moment, we now know that Vera's kick connected with O'Malley's peroneal nerve in his right leg, which left him incapable of lifting his ankle and toes.

Although this was a freak injury, there's no doubt that Vera caused it — and therefore is deserving of the win. 

Yet, given that the injury clearly affected O'Malley, some — including him — believe the fight was a fluke.

Will That First Fight Affect the Rematch?

UFC 299 will settle what many people have been wondering since the first O'Malley vs Vera fight: Does Chito Vera have Suga Sean's number? Or can O'Malley settle the score?

It will be interesting to see whether O'Malley has any psychological issues to overcome while rematching Vera. That loss is still the only one O'Malley has ever suffered as a professional MMA fighter, which might impact his psyche.

Then again, O'Malley has proven that he has a completely different mindset than most normal folks. It's hard to imagine that he's suffering from any lack of confidence in facing his former foe — especially because he has been seeking this rematch for years. 

What's for sure is that, by the time Saturday night ends, we won't need to discuss the first O'Malley vs Vera fight anymore.

Grant Young is a sports writer from San Francisco. He has had two professional Muay Thai fights: he got knocked out in one, and got a knockout in the other. When it comes to his favorite fighters, it's Israel Adesanya, and then it's everyone else.

Continue Reading