UFC 292 takeaways: Let the comparisons begin between Sean O’Malley and Conor McGregor
Sean O’Malley not only changed the bantamweight division, but the entire landscape of the UFC after finishing Aljamain Sterling. Zhang Weili cruised in her title defense, while Ian Machado Garry remained undefeated. Marc Raimondi, Brett Okamoto, Jeff Wagenheim and Carlos Contreras Legaspi highlight the biggest takeaways from a big night in Boston.
Sean O’Malley is a rarity in mixed martial arts, a fighter who resonates passionately with fans who soak in his sweet skills but recognize that they are just the tip of a Technicolor iceberg. He’s thrilling to watch. His explosiveness in a fight always threatens to make an arena shake to its foundation. And beyond the cage, O’Malley has a natural way with words along with a swagger and style that cannot be faked.
You either have it or you don’t. And “Suga Sean” has it.
Sound like anyone else who has ruled the sport?
Sure, it sounds hyperbolic and perhaps lazy to pass off anyone as a new Conor McGregor, but when O’Malley dropped UFC men’s bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling with a counter right hand early in Round 2 of their UFC 292 main event on Saturday at TD Garden in Boston, it was eerily reminiscent of the night back in 2015 when McGregor clipped featherweight king Jose Aldo to capture his first championship.
Everyone but the fighter himself doubted McGregor on that night eight years ago in his bid to unseat a legend who at the time was acclaimed as the greatest 145-pounder. And many doubted O’Malley in the leadup to this fight against perhaps history’s greatest bantamweight. It was not just the expectations that were similar for both star challengers. So were their paths to victory. Both McGregor and O’Malley used their storied opponents’ aggression against them, utilizing timing and precision to elevate themselves to the top of the sport.