Sean O’Malley was in so much pain after his UFC 222 win that he did his post-fight Octagon interview with Joe Rogan lying flat on his back. At the time, O’Malley said it was a foot injury and it felt “numb.”
It was not, however, a broken foot, UFC president Dana White said Saturday night at the post-fight press conference in Las Vegas. White said he told doctors to text him when they had an update on O’Malley’s condition and the X-rays were presumably negative.
O’Malley ended up winning the fight against Andre Soukhamthath via unanimous decision despite being on essentially one leg for the final two minutes. The Montana native, an alum of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, impressed the UFC boss with his guts.
“That’s when you find out who’s real, when you talk about a fighter,” White said. “Like, a fighter. A lot of guys will use that as an excuse to try and get out. That kid didn’t try to stop that fight, he kept fighting right to the end. And then when the fight was over, you saw him, he was screaming. He was in so much pain. But he fought his ass off right to the end.”
Soukhamthath inexplicably kept going for takedowns while O’Malley was clearly injured for some reason, rather than kicking his foot or trying to take out a one-legged man in the striking. White said he didn’t get it, either.
“I couldn’t understand why he was laying right on top of him instead of making him stand up and get up,” White said. “Not very smart.”
O’Malley, 23, has now won his first two UFC fights after a highlight-reel knockout out on the Contender Series last summer. The question now is how quickly will the UFC fast track him to the top of the bantamweight division. Sometimes, White said, the fighters themselves make that an easy question to answer.
“Did we push Jon Jones too fast?” White said. “Did we push Conor McGregor too fast? When you’re the man or the woman, you win. … One of the things we’ve always been good at is cultivating young talent and I think more so in the last couple of years than ever, probably.”
White mentioned his “Lookin’ For a Fight” show and the Contender Series as viable ways to “find” talent. The UFC had a number of those young rising stars on the card Saturday with O’Malley, Mackenzie Dern and Brian Ortega, who is a bit further along and nearing a title shot.
O’Malley (10-0) might have a bit longer of a road to gold. But the loquacious and entertaining “Suga Sean” — with his robe adorned with weed leaves and “Welcome to the Suga Show!” catch phrase — seems to be on the right track, inside the outside the Octagon.
“The kid’s fun to watch, he’s exciting and people love to watch him,” White said. “The crowd really likes him. I like it.”