The thrill of victory can mean so much more when you’ve been waiting to show the world what you can do.
Under the bright lights of Las Vegas and within the confines of the UFC APEX Center, UFC 250 will showcase the best of the bantamweight division. With a strange demeanor and unique fighting style, Sean O’Malley wants to show the world how great he can be. His opponent, Eddie Wineland, is looking to stop his dangerous opponent before he picks up steam. Both are trying to take attention away from other fights with title implications. Remember them now, for this may be a preview of future UFC Bantamweight Title contenders.
On the latest “Why Should I Care“, FIGHT SPORTS looks into the bantamweight bout this weekend, June 6, featuring Sean O’Malley and Eddie Wineland.
— UFC (@ufc) June 5, 2020
O’Malley (11-0) made his professional debut in 2015 following a 7-2 amateur record. Competing with Intense Championship Fighting, “Sugar” made his presence felt on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2017. Beating Alfred Khashakyan in July of that year, O’Malley earned a contract with the promotion. He made his debut in December 2017, beating Terrion Ware via unanimous decision.
He then beat Andre Soukhamthath at UFC 222 in March 2018. O’Malley’s career was on the up and his popularity was soaring.
“I think at this point I’ve proven I’m not a ‘hype train,’ but I don’t mind that title because Conor McGregor was a hype train; Israel Adesanya was a hype train,” said the undefeated 25-year-old rising star. “So if that’s what hype trains are, yeah — I want to be a hype train,” O’Malley stated, via Essentially Sports.
O’Malley was set to compete at UFC 229 in October 2018 before initially testing positive for ostarine. Serving a six-month suspension, the supplement appeared to still be in his system as USADA flagged him for another failed test. It was determined by USADA that the second violation was a result of a tainted dietary supplement. During that time, all O’Malley wanted to do was compete. Fans missed him and the sport needed his personality.
O’Malley then returned and delivered a sensational performance at UFC 248 this past March against Jose Alberto Quinonez. He took him out via TKO following a head kick and a barrage of punches. Given a chance to show what he can do, the 25-year-old wants to make up for lost time and compete in multiple contests this year.
As far as what his future goals are, O’Malley wants to be the top dog in a stacked bantamweight division. Fighting on the UFC 250 card is Aljamain Sterling and Cory Sandhagen, two contenders looking to prove they deserve a title opportunity after UFC Bantamweight Champion Henry Cejudo retired following UFC 249. O’Malley wants to sit at that lunch table, even if he has two fights left on his current UFC deal.
“I think it could be the best division in the UFC right now,” O’Malley went on to say, via MMA Fighting. “The whole top-10 is so stacked, but I think with my style, the performance that I’m gonna have (on Saturday) and continue to have with my name being big, and my following being big, I think in a couple of fights, I could be fighting for that title.”
O’Malley faces the biggest challenge in his career when he takes on a former World Extreme Cagefighting Bantamweight Champion in Wineland (24-13-1). The 35-year-old turned professional in 2003 and fought in regional organizations. He was then picked up by WEC and became a force there. Following the merger of WEC and the UFC, Wineland made his debut for the latter company in 2011, losing to Urijah Faber.
Wineland is 6-7 in the UFC and is 2-2 in his last four fights. His last bout was a TKO-win against Grigory Popov back in June 2019. As the old guard, Wineland understands that the UFC wants O’Malley to succeed and face tough opponents. He will look to use that towards his advantage, however.
“It’s a big opportunity for me. It’s a big opportunity for him, also,” Wineland stated to MMA Junkie. “He’s fighting a veteran. I’m fighting a guy who has got a huge name. Even though he’s been in the UFC not that long, he’s got a very big name, very big following. As far as derailing? It is what it is. They set us up to fight. If it derails him, it derails him. I’m sorry, but I’m here to win. I’m not here to lose.”
Wineland is considered a heavy favorite in the bout, and one of the top picks on the entire card. His desire to fight keeps him going, and he won’t let O’Malley get in the way of his goal.
O’Malley does believe Wineland is the perfect fight for him. Wineland has 11 wins via knockout and O’Malley has seven. The strikes will be an important factor, as both men need to be durable for at least three rounds.
“I think this is a perfect next match for me,” O’Malley went on to say. “He’s a vet, and it’s a good matchup for me. Anyone that’s gonna try and strike with me is a good matchup for me.”
Both fighters will look to open UFC 250 up with a bang. Will the UFC’s gamble pay off when it comes to O’Malley’s development, or will Wineland look to play spoiler?
The main card of UFC 250 begins at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+.