The knock on budding Bantamweight bigwig, Sean O’Malley, heading into his bout opposite Kris Moutinho at UFC 264, which takes place tonight (Sat., July 11, 2021) inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, was that “Suga” was being protected by the promotion. And six fights into his UFC tenure, fight fans and critics are still waiting for the 26-year-old to fight Top 15-ranked contenders more frequently ... if at all.
Indeed, O’Malley was teed-up for another showcase performance against an inferior opponent, who was making his Octagon debut on one week’s notice after his original foe, un-ranked Louis Smolka, was “licking wresting mats trying to get staph.”
Anyway, O’Malley did his thing, but no one was prepared for the grit and determination of Moutinho, who literally put his entire self into trying to win this fight. In the end, the bout was stopped in the third round just as O’Malley was mashing the newcomer’s face into a bloody pulp (watch highlights).
Moutinho bum-rushed O’Malley immediately, but O’Malley just stepped aside and started doing his dynamic thing from distance, landing creative shots from all sorts of angles. Kris kept the pressure on, uncorking some low kicks to try and debilitate “Suga.” But, O’Malley landed with front kicks and clean jabs, but Kris kept pressing forward regardless. Kris missed on a big right cross and O’Malley used it to really showcase his talent, juking and jiving and painting Kris’ face by numbers with all sorts of odd-angle shots. Kris weathered the storm and responded with more leg kicks, but O’Malley just kept drilling him in the face with repeated jabs. Kris landed a nice right hand with 90 seconds to go in the round, which he followed up with a wry smile. More pressure and leg kicks from Moutinho down the stretch, taking O’Malley’s best shots and still moving forward. With 20 seconds remaining, O’Malley looked up at the clock, perhaps wondering what’s taking so long. He backed up and dropped Moutinho with a straight shot, then followed him to the ground and locked in a guillotine choke, but he was saved by the bell.
Moutinho was clearly buzzed heading back to his corner between rounds — O’Malley was literally a second or two away from a stoppage. O’Malley came out with a spinning back kick after Moutinho, still wobbly, flipped him the bird before the action started. Low kicks and a stinging jab for the first minute from O’Malley, but then Moutinho landed a nice left cross along the fence. One-two combination from O’Malley, but Moutinho keeps charging forward, walking right through a head kick seconds later. Moutinho kept working the lower half and O’Malley made him pay each time he got within range thanks to that relentless one-two down the middle. The pair exchanged hooks with about two minutes remaining in the second round, followed by more solid work upstairs from O’Malley. Despite all the damage Moutinho was relentless, with O’Malley once again looking up at the clock to see how much longer.
Moutinho actually appeared to be the fresher fighter heading into the third and final frame even though he was clearly down on the judges scorecards. O’Malley opened up the scoring with front kicks, while Moutinho spent time smiling and talking trash. Moutinho landed a hard right cross, which backed up O’Malley along the cage. O’Malley continued to play keep away, circling and darting out of the fence while landing just enough shots to try and keep Moutinho at bay. Midway through round three, they exchanged hard shots once again before O’Malley started to circle once again. With two minutes remaining, O’Malley teed off, starting with a knee to the face and unanswered shots to the face. No idea how Moutinho was able to remain upright, let alone communicate and talk trash throughout the entire ordeal. With about 30 seconds remaining, referee Herb Dean stepped in during the middle of a brutal fight-ending combination, chock full of uppercuts, straight lefts and rights ... everything but the kitchen sink.
Moutinho was not going to win; however, he delivered a gutsy performance in his Octagon debut that he will undoubtedly garner more fans with this loss than potentially any other win in the near future.
O’Malley, meanwhile, will once again probably not move up the Bantamweight ladder after this latest victory. He picked up another highlight reel knockout to bolster his name and called out former division champion, Cody Garbrandt.
Now we’re talking!
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