GREAT FALLS – The first time 221 Industries CEO Cory Smith watched Helena’s Sean O’Malley fight, he knew he was watching seeing special.
“That first fight in Missoula (in 2013), I remember running back to the locker room and saying, ‘You’re going to go to the UFC someday,’” Smith said. “We all knew it was going to happen, but then it seemed like it happened overnight.”
Five years later, and O’Malley has gone from up-and-coming mixed martial arts prospect to undefeated UFC superstar, rising through the ranks of amateur and regional promotions to signing a contract with the biggest name in combat sports. And the 23-year-old hasn’t forgotten his roots.
O’Malley recently agreed to a partnership with 221 Industries for a new clothing line set to launch on May 1 featuring designs from Great Falls based InkFish creative.
“He’s got 260,000 followers on Instagram now, so there are companies just coming at him every day,” added Smith. “So we negotiated with him, and some other companies threw him some offers, but finally he was like, ‘I was with you guys at the beginning, you have been with me the whole time, so I’m going to give you guys a shot.’”
Right now, Smith and O’Malley have six designs that they’re trying to whittle down to three for the initial launch. A women’s line is set to go on sale in June. A portion of the proceeds from the sales of the shirts will be donated to the Boys and Girls Club of Montana, which is exactly what O’Malley wanted.
“That was Sean’s idea, that’s what he wanted to do,” said Smith. “He wanted to give back to Montana because Montana raised him. ”
O’Malley is expected to return to Helena and Great Falls for the launch where he will sign autographs. At 10-0 as a professional, he is currently recovering from surgery on his right foot which he injured at UFC 222 in March. He hopes to get back in the cage sometime in the fall or winter.
Shirts will be on sale at SugarShow.net starting the first of May.