The official record will say differently – but bantamweight division contender, ‘Sugar’ Sean O’Malley has claimed he’s still undefeated, “mentally“. The Montana native suffered his first professional loss at UFC 252 earlier this month – losing via first-round knockout to fellow contender, Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera.

Controversy surrounded the main card finish, with O’Malley suffering a leg injury before the third-minute mark of the opening frame, after a whipping calf kick from Ecuadorian all-rounder, Vera. Capitalising, the surging contender established stacked guard before the klaxon, unleashing a massive left hook and elbow, forcing referee Herb Dean to step in and call a halt to the action.

While any fractures were initially ruled out, O’Malley will have to undergo an MRI to determine if he’s suffered any ligament or tendon damage as a result of Vera’s kick. With tension still rife between the two, O’Malley took to his podcast recently, explaining how he still maintains a mindset that he’s in fact, still unbeaten.

Did he (Marlon Vera) win? Yes,” O’Malley said. “Am I undefeated? Yes. Mentally. I’m 12-0. I didn’t lose sh*t. I was dominating that fight. I felt superior in there until my foot gave out. I know you guys – I probably sound stupid, but that’s ok, ’cause look at me, (takes off his hat) I’m not that smart.

The August 15th. co-headliner marked O’Malley’s first loss in the promotion, with the Dana White’s Contender Series product scoring four Octagon wins since his promotional bow back in March of 2018. The 25-year-old has picked up a unanimous decision win opposite, Terrion Ware, and then Andre Soukhamthath, where he also suffered a similar leg injury against the latter. 

This year, O’Malley returned with stunning knockout wins over José Alberto Quiñónez, and a particularly shocking one-punch finish of former WEC bantamweight titleholder, Eddie Wineland. A creative striker with high-level movement and footwork, from twelve professional victories, O’Malley has scored an eye-catching eight stoppages via strikes. 

Aspiring mixed martial arts reporter based in Ireland. Follow along at @Ross_Markey on Twitter for all the latest news, fight announcements, opinion, and feature pieces.