Making his Octagon comeback this weekend at UFC 260 against Brazilian Muay Thai standout, Thomas Almeida, polarizing bantamweight, Sean O’Malley still maintains that he’s entering the matchup in an attempt to defend his undefeated record, claiming he “wasn’t beaten” by Marlon Vera at UFC 252 last August.

O’Malley, who makes his return to the Octagon, suffered a first round knockout loss to the Ecuadorian finisher, suffering as he claims “drop foot” in the matchup with Vera, who landed a calf kick on O’Malley midway through the opening round. 

As a result, O’Malley’s lateral and forward motion mobility was significantly hampered, with Vera able to capitalise on the injury flare up, to score a damaging ground-and-pound stoppage in the latter stages of the premier frame.

In the months since, O’Malley has echoed his initial claims that he’s still undefeated despite holding a 12-1 record, and although those claims have become somewhat of a “joke” to him, he still maintains he “wasn’t beaten‘ by the Team Oyama standout.

I’ve been saying it (mentally undefeated) since the fight,” O’Malley said during a recent interview with ESPN MMA reporter, Ariel Helwani. “It’s kinda turned into a joke for me — I’ve explained it a bunch, but I’ll say it again for you. I don’t feel — I wasn’t beaten that night because my skills weren’t as good (as Vera’s) — I know you said, I think looking back on it — it was the calf kick. It definitely wasn’t a calf kick if you go back and rewatch it. Literally, his big toe hit my peroneal nerve and it caused drop foot.

It wasn’t a — calf kicks suck, you know, they hurt bad,” O’Malley explained. “But they don’t give you drop foot, at least with the first one, but yeah, I don’t know. It was — I didn’t feel like I lost cause my skills weren’t better than his. I had a great training camp, everything felt good, it just happened that way. But I don’t think I lost — I got a lot of sh*t for saying that, ‘mentally undefeated’ or whatever, but it is what it is. I’m excited to go back in there and perform.

Forced to return to the win column for the first time in his career, O’Malley saw his twelve-fight undefeated streak halted by Vera, following Octagon victories over Terrion Ware, Andre Soutkhamthat, Jose Alberto Quinonez, as well as a Knockout of the Year candidate against former WEC bantamweight best, Eddie Wineland at UFC 250 last June.

Drawing 29-year-old Sao Paulo native, Almeida this weekend on the main card of UFC 260, the Brazilian enters the matchup attempting to snap a three-fight skid, most recently capped by a unanimous decision loss to UFC Vegas 21 feature, Jonathan Martinez on short-notice at UFC Fight Island 5 last October. 

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.