Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight strikers Sean O’Malley and Thomas Almeida will go to war this weekend (Sat., March 27, 2021) at UFC 260 inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Though still mentally undefeated, Sean O’Malley’s rocket ride to the top of the Bantamweight division got a bit rocky when “Chito” Vera elbowed his skull through the canvas. Delusion aside, O’Malley is still a spectacular striker with a lot of potential for great performances, so it may be unwise to write him off just yet. Almeida, meanwhile, has also committed wild actions of violence inside the Octagon, but he’s suffered more than a single setback. At one point, the Brazilian Chute Boxe representative was on his own fast track to the title, but he’s since lost four of his last five bouts and fought rather infrequently.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Eddie Wineland (UFC 250), Jose Alberto Quinonez (UFC 248), Terrion Ware (TUF 26 Finale), Andre Soukhamthath (UFC 222)
Key Losses: Marlon Vera (UFC 252)
Keys to Victory: There is both style and substance to O’Malley’s kickboxing game. “Suga” flows between stances very well, throwing seriously heavy round and spin kicks from either side. Feinting and pulling, O’Malley is always looking to time his heavy right hand as well.
It’s difficult to point out a specific technical reason for Almeida’s recent struggles. More than anything else, he seems to have difficulty getting going. At his best, Almeida can put together beautiful and dangerous combinations that target the legs, body and head in one fell swoop.
Almeida’s violent whirlwind is definitely to be avoided, and O’Malley can help quell it early by starting quickly. Jonathan Martinez did so by slamming left kicks when his opponent stepped forward, and O’Malley could look to do the same. A few big kicks as Almeida steps forward to throw could really shake his confidence.
In addition, O’Malley has to keep his feet moving. There’s nothing more demoralizing to a striker than when punches are missing. If “Suga” can make his foe hit air early, it grows more and more likely that he takes control of the distance or finds a fight-finishing strike.
Key Wins: Brad Pickett (UFC 189), Yves Jabouin (UFC 186), Anthony Birchak (UFC Fight Night 77), Albert Morales (UFC Fight Night 100)
Key Losses: Cody Garbrandt (UFC Fight Night 88), Jimmie Rivera (UFC on FOX 25), Rob Font (UFC 220), Jonathan Martinez (UFC Fight Night 180)
Keys to Victory: Man, it’s easy to forget given his current struggles, but Almeida is a dangerous, dangerous Bantamweight when on his game. The Muay Thai black belt puts together classic combinations with nasty intent, chopping legs and destroying livers with a real viciousness.
Almeida has stopped 17 opponents via knockout.
I don’t mean to oversimplify things, but O’Malley has twice suffered ankle/foot/calf injuries in five UFC fights ... maybe kicking the s—t out of his calf is a good idea? Checking some of O’Malley’s power kicks with the knee or an elbow block could produce the same result as well.
Even beyond O’Malley’s general history of leg injuries, Almeida should be finishing his combinations with kicks anyway. O’Malley is a difficult man to hit thanks to his movement, but the leg is the easiest target. And if Almeida can time O’Malley moving into the kicks, it won’t take many to do big damage.
Low and body kicks will slow O’Malley’s feet even if he’s not outright injured. If Almeida can make this more of a striking match from the pocket, that favors his style of combination punching.
This reads very much like a rebound fight for Sean O’Malley.
Like it or not, “The Suga Show” is a real thing. He may be (purposefully) obnoxious, but O’Malley draws eyes to his fights, and more often than not, he delivers pretty spectacular moments. UFC has a potential star on their hands, and they’d like him back in the win column.
Even with a win, expect a relatively slower build up process for O’Malley moving forward.
Compared to O’Malley, Almeida is old news. He’s no longer thought of as a contender, and he isn’t really expected to win this fight. That’s a rough situation if things go according to plan, but this is also a real opportunity for the Brazilian to rebound himself. If he can stop O’Malley, Almeida is back in the win column over a name opponent, and perhaps that’s the burst of momentum and confidence that can break him from his current funk.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 260 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC 260: “Miocic vs. Ngannou 2” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.
At UFC 260, Sean O’Malley and Thomas Almeida will duel. Which Bantamweight will remain standing when the dust settles?