Sean O’Malley is expected to draw fellow bantamweight Raulian Paiva in his next trip to the Octagon at UFC 269 on Dec. 11, per a recent report by ESPN’s Brett Okamoto.
This isn’t the most likely matchup for O’Malley as the young contender tries to push his way towards the title, but then again O’Malley is the one who said he doesn’t want to fight ranked opponents because he gets paid the same. Fans thought UFC would ante up to see O’Malley continue his rise up the division ranks, but O’Malley will end up facing a 25-year-old prospect in Paiva.
O’Malley, 26, is coming off a beatdown of late replacement Kris Moutinho and a knockout victory over Thomas Almeida. Those performances have helped mask his disappointing TKO loss to Marlon Vera back at UFC 252, which remains the only loss on O’Malley’s record. If “Sugar” is able to make easy work out of Paiva then there’s simply no way he can continue to fight unranked opponents. Or is there?
Paiva, 25, has won his last three trips to the Octagon, including his recent decision win over touted bantamweight prospect Kyler Phillips. He may not be a top-flight finisher, but Paiva is well-rounded and durable, which is a big reason why is overall MMA record currently stands at 21-3. Paiva will have to make up for a size and reach disadvantage opposite O’Malley so there’s a chance he leans more on his grappling than his striking.