LAS VEGAS – Helena’s Sean O’Malley is just 23 years old. He only has nine professional fights to his name and only one in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
But on Saturday he’ll be on the main card at UFC 222 in Las Vegas, a marquee Pay-Per-View event for the biggest promotion in combat sports.
That type of meteoric rise is unheard of in the world of MMA. But it’s exactly how O’Malley envisioned it.
“I knew this was all going to happen, I just didn’t know it was going to happen so fast,” O’Malley said Tuesday during a break from training. “But I’m not surprised that it happened, nothing surprises me. I’ve seen all of these things happen before. I’ve watched UFC events knowing I was going to be on them, I’ve watched Pay-Per-View cards knowing I’m going to be on them.”
O’Malley (9-0) is set to fight veteran Andre Soukhamthath (12-5) on Saturday night in front of thousands of fans live, and millions watching around the world. Soukhamthath is known as a standup striker with boxing experience and has three UFC fights under his belt. He’s never been finished in a fight and is currently favored in the latest money line odds at Bovada.com.
But O’Malley believes Soukhamthath has never stepped in the octagon against someone with his skill set.
“He’s never fought someone as fast as me,” said O’Malley. “I’m going to get in there and hit him, and he’s not going to see it. That’s how you get dropped is the shots you don’t see.”
The fight doesn’t happen until Saturday, but the war of words has already begun. Soukhamthath has sounded off on O’Malley’s UFC rise in interviews.
“He’s a punk. I think he represents the wrong things,” Soukhamthath told CageSidePress.com “I think he’s bad for the sport, and I think he’s fake.”
For O’Malley’s part, besides referring to his opponent as Andre ‘Soccer Mom’, he hasn’t paid much attention to the coverage surrounding the fight.
“I literally haven’t watched one thing on him,” O’Malley said. “If I just focus on myself and come and fight my game, then that’s all I need to do. I’m trying to stay humble, but also being myself and letting that cocky confidence show.”
O’Malley has made a name for himself with highlight reel knockouts and an unorthodox style that keeps opponents guessing. He’s added more tools to his arsenal since his last fight, a unanimous decision over Terrion Ware in his UFC debut in December, and is ready to unleash them Saturday.
“From the beginning, every fight I can see myself growing so much,” O’Malley said. “Even from that last fight I’ve grown so much and I’m super pumped to just go out there and show everyone what else I can do.”
But for all the hype, and all the newfound fame, fans and followers – O’Malley remembers where he came from. And he hopes to keep making Montana proud. Long time sponsor Rich Hollis is hosting a watch party in Great Falls, Saturday night at the Sting Sports Bar.
“Montana made me tough,” O’Malley said. “I love seeing all those guys having parties and having them watch the fight. Every fight, there’s more and more fans from Montana. It means a lot and it’s cool to see.”
His career is only beginning and a win in his Pay-Per-View debut will move O’Malley one step closer to becoming a household name.
“The fans want to see me fight and I feel like I’m 9-0 with 7 or 8 finishes, whatever I got,” he explained. “It’s entertaining. I’m going to become a superstar after this fight.”