Starting his career in 2007, Sean O’Connell has seen it all. He has fought some of the top fighters out there, but never got his moment with Showdown, the UFC or UCE. Then O’Connell (21-10) went to the PFL, where he ended his career on a high note.
The PFL’s “Run it Back” series has returned, focusing on the fighters who won the PFL Finals and claimed a check of $1 million. It will be streaming live on the PFL’s social media pages Thursday’s at 8 p.m. ET. Already covered: 2019 PFL Lightweight Champion Kayla Harrison and 2019 PFL Welterweight Champion Ray Cooper III.
A host of the series, O’Connell was joined by Jeremy Horn, his coach through it all. O’Connell beat Ronny Markes at PFL 2, lost to Bazigit Atajev at PFL 7 and managed to beat both Dan Spohn and Smealinho Rama to advance towards the finals.
Facing Vinny Magalhaes, a known submission specialist, O’Connell was able to show who he truly was as a fighter. Magalhaes dominated all aspects of round one, but couldn’t put O’Connell away. That ended up being his downfall, as O’Connell and Horn got enough confidence in the game plan to march forward. O’Connell landed a hook to the chin and was able to control the ground game. In the end, Magalhaes told his corner he was done, and O’Connell won $1 million and the PFL Light Heavyweight Title.
Retiring on a high note, O’Connell reflected on his journey leading to his exit from MMA.
“It’s fun to look back on this,” O’Connell stated. “This was a really surreal moment, because I knew that it was going to be my last fight. Win, loss or draw. I talked about it a ton with my wife. To have the belt on my shoulder and the $1 million check and have that be the punctuation, man, that felt really good.”
Future “Run it Back” episodes will include Emiliano Sordi (4/23), David Michaud (4/30), Natan Schulte (5/7) and Lance Palmer (5/14).