Us old dogs may have tuned into UFC 252 to catch the heavyweight trilogy fight between champ Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier, but a lot of the young ‘uns were undoubtedly more interested in the “Suga Show” portion of the card — the co-main between “Sugar” Sean O’Malley and Marlon Vera.
Unfortunately, these kids got to learn that sometimes the MMA Gods are cruel. Instead of the absolute war we were expecting, we instead got a relatively brief fight that was marred by another spontaneous injury suffered by O’Malley to his right foot. Vera smelled blood and went in for the kill, but even that was denied us: Herb Dean waved the fight off moments after O’Malley hit the canvas, giving “Chito” the win 4:40 into the round.
So what the hell happened? Details were scarce following the event with UFC president Dana White simply reporting “He’s getting a CAT scan right now,” at the post fight press conference.
But according to cageside commentator Megan Olivi, O’Malley told her it was the same injury he suffered as in his 2018 fight with Andre Soukhamthath. Olivi tracked O’Malley down and spoke to him as doctors were tending to him backstage, but wasn’t able to get more out of him as “he was just trying to meditate and not be in so much pain.”
Obviously we’ll have to wait til doctors give him (and through him, us) a confirmed diagnosis. But it’s definitely the same foot giving him problems.
O’Malley managed to gut out a win against Soukhamthath despite fighting on one foot for half of the third round. It was a similar situation where all of a sudden “Sugar” couldn’t put any weight on the leg without it giving out on him. In the days following the fight O’Malley described the injury as an earlier foot fracture that never healed properly.
“They said it wasn’t broken, but they said I’ve got a previous fracture in there from before the fight, so I’m gonna figure out what’s wrong with it,” he told MMA Fighting back in 2018. “It’s hurt pretty much nonstop, so we’ll see. I didn’t (know it was previously fractured). Every fight I’m in I throw a lot of kicks. I land with my feet a lot, I’ve had a lot of foot issues because of that. I’ve had a lot of foot injuries so I wasn’t surprised.”
“It was a super weird feeling. I couldn’t feel my whole foot when I put it on the ground. Every time I put pressure on it, it wasn’t there — it was super weird. It sucked. What I understand is it would be better if it was broken because it would be easier to heal than ligament tears. I think I would almost rather it would be broken, but we’re going to check it out and we’ll see where we can go from there.”
Let’s hope it’s actually broken this time then!
It’s obviously pretty bad news that a hot prospect like O’Malley is dealing with a lingering injury that likes to flare up in fights. If his foot really is this fragile, at best it could limit his ability to use it as a weapon. At worst it could derail his chances at becoming a champion.
We’ll have more news on Sean O’Malley’s foot injury at UFC 252 as it comes out.