Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight prospects Sean O’Malley and Kris Moutinho will duel this weekend (Sat., July 10, 2021) at UFC 264 inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Look, this is not the match up that anyone wanted, especially when such intriguing options were presented even when Louis Smolka was forced to withdraw. It’s certainly not the fight O’Malley wanted, as “Suga” was hoping to score an important victory on the year’s biggest fight card.
Instead, he’ll have to chase the highlight.
Massachusetts’ Moutinho, meanwhile, is in an entirely different situation. No one knew his name a week ago, but now the CFFC veteran has a chance to shock the world on a gigantic stage.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Thomas Almeida (UFC 260), Eddie Wineland (UFC 250), Jose Alberto Quinonez (UFC 248), Andre Soukhamthath (UFC 222)
Key Losses: Marlon Vera (UFC 252)
Keys to Victory: O’Malley is a showman. “Suga” routinely scores pretty tremendous knockout wins with flashy techniques, but those outcomes are the result of excellent movement and feints.
I don’t know how much analysis is necessary here — O’Malley simply appears to be a much higher caliber of fighter than the UFC newcomer. He’s bigger, more experienced, more dangerous and likely has skill advantages in all areas. Even if Moutinho does have a jiu-jitsu edge, it’s unlikely he’s able to drag O’Malley down to the mat; others have tried! As such, it’s going to be a striking battle, and that favors the lanky knockout artist in a major way.
Realistically, expect an even looser and showier O’Malley than usual. “Suga” is a bold athlete even while fighting top-notch talent, so he’s likely to really attempt to show out against a debuting fighter.
Key Wins: Da’Mon Blackshear (CES 51), Ashiek Ajim (CES 61)
Key Losses: Tony Gravely (CES 54), Johnny Campbell (CES 57)
Keys to Victory: Moutinho has a wrestling background, but Regiment Training Center representative tends to prefer to strike. He’s scrappy and aggressive, and Moutinho has stopped three of his past opponents via knockout.
As explained above, things don’t look great for the newcomer. Strategically, there’s only so much one can do with an extremely limited camp, but it seems prudent to at least try to kick the hell out of O’Malley’s calf and ankle. Maybe it only takes one well-placed kick to injure his foe and drastically change the fight — you never know!
Otherwise, Moutinho just has to go for it. He’s not likely to have the gas tank for a long fight anyway, nor does patiently getting picked apart at range sound like a ton of fun. Moutinho’s best bet involves going after O’Malley and trying to force a scrap from the first bell.
Why let O’Malley move around and find his distance? There’s no benefit there. Going on the offensive immediately provides Moutinho the best odds at scoring the upset.
It’s a strange fight, but hopefully it’ll produce an entertaining result?
O’Malley lost any opportunity to actually move up the Bantamweight ladder this weekend. Instead, O’Malley has a chance to pick up another highlight reel knockout and bolster his name. Considering how much O’Malley profits on his fan base and fame, perhaps an extra 100,000 Instagram followers would be worth the delay in upward progression ... assuming he can really capitalize with a viral knockout.
As for Moutinho, he gets an entry into the Octagon that otherwise would not have happened. Most likely, that’s his silver lining to a rough night at the office. If, however, Moutinho does manage to make a miracle happen, it’s instantly one of the biggest upsets of the year, and Moutinho’s popularity would explode.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 264 fight card right here, starting with the early 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 264: “McGregor vs. Poirier 3” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.
At UFC 264, Sean O’Malley and Kris Moutinho will scrap to open the main card. Which man will earn the victory?