After a two-year absence, "Sugar" returned to the UFC last March and instantly reminded everyone that he should be taken seriously as the future of the of the bantamweight division.
It’s a battle between two potential future stars of the bantamweight division as Sean O’Malley will face Thomas Almeida on the main card of UFC 260 from Las Vegas on Saturday. O’Malley is looking to bounce-back from his first professional loss, while Almeida is trying to end a three-fight losing skid.
Sean O’Malley UFC 260 Odds
O’Malley (12-1 MMA record) returned from a two-year absence last March and instantly reminded the UFC that he should be taken seriously as the future of the of the bantamweight division. After returning from hip surgery and a suspension for an Anti-Doping Policy violation, the 26-year-old picked up a first round stoppage win over Jose Alberto Quinonez at UFC 248. He then followed that win up by knocking out Eddie Wineland at UFC 250, just three months later. Both fights earned Performance of the Night bonuses. O’Malley will, however, have to do something he’s never done before on Saturday, and bounce-back from a loss. After suffering a leg injury in the first round of his fight with Marlon Vera, O’Malley picked up his first career loss in a late round stoppage. O’Malley has shown a lot of upside, but there are still questions about how high his ceiling is. A dominant win on Saturday would go a long way to answering those questions.
“Sugar” is a patient fighter. He takes his time and gets comfortable with the rhythm of the fight while he establishes a secure distance. O’Malley is a technical striker who comes at opponents with a creative variety of combinations. He averages more significant strikes per minute than Almeida and also absorbs less. O’Malley consistently mixes things up on his feet and is as likely to strike with a spinning technique as he is to strike with a conventional shot. He’s fast and explosive and will likely be looking to end this fight in spectacular fashion.
Thomas Almeida UFC 260 Odds
Almeida (22-4 MMA record) was once a workhorse, but he’s hit hard times. After starting his professional career 21-0 and his UFC career 4-0, Almeida was knocked out by Cody Garbrandt in less than three minutes in 2016. Since then, things haven’t gone well for Almeida. He’s lost four of his last five fights, including his last three, and an eye injury nearly cost him his career. Almeida has only fought twice in the last three years. He lost by second round TKO to Rob Font at UFC 220 in 2018, before dropping a unanimous decision against Jonathan Martinez last October. Formerly a rising star in the division, questions linger about how much Almeida has left to give. Saturday is his chance to silence those doubters.
Like O’Malley, Almeida takes his time to find a comfortable rhythm. He relies on his striking and has a nose for finding finishing opportunities. Almeida is patient and controlled and utilizes a diverse attack. He’ll do damage with leg kicks and follow them up with solid combinations. Almeida’s reach is about two inches shorter than O’Malley, so he’ll need to focus on low leg kicks, at least early in the fight. This is likely a make-it-or-break-it fight for Almeida. If he loses on Saturday, he might not get another shot. There’s no telling how dangerous a fighter can be with motivation like that.
O’Malley vs. Almeida UFC 260 Prediction
Almeida instantly established himself as one of the most dangerous bantamweight fighters when he entered the UFC. It’s ben five years since he’s been relevant, though. O’Malley is the more dangerous fighter and although he puts himself into more dangerous situations than Almeida, he’s likely too fast and precise to be in any real danger in this fight. Look for O’Malley to earn a first round KO win.