It’s been nearly a year and a half since we’ve seen Sean O’Malley in action.
The undefeated UFC fighter had his most recent battle in the Octagon in March of 2018, not knowing that his Fight of the Night would be his last for a long time. His involuntary absence from the cage has weighed heavily on him and his fans, but tonight, he’ll have the chance to prove his skill set in another way when he steps onto the stage at Fight 2 Win 122.
O’Malley has been open with his frustrations about his time away from fighting. The trouble started at the end of September last year when he announced that his October 6 fight with José Alberto Quiñónez was off after he’d failed a banned substance test. Although he maintained that he’d never intentionally taken any prohibited substances to enhance his performance as a fighter, he was suspended for six months. When he finally became eligible to return, his anticipated bout with Marlon Vera for July 6, 2019 in Las Vegas was canceled after residual amounts of Ostarine (likely from the previous test) were found in his system. USADA didn’t suspend him again, but the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) wouldn’t let him fight.
Hungry to compete again, O’Malley — a BJJ purple belt — has jumped into the fray at tonight’s Fight 2 Win event against Princeton Jackson in Scottsdale, AZ. His coach, Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes, will be competing in the main event against Marcelo Mafra. The excitement and production level of F2W is about the closest thing the jiu-jitsu world has to a UFC event, and while it isn’t a perfect replacement, O’Malley told the Jiu-Jitsu Times that the preparation has “helped a little bit” with the frustration of not being able to fight. “Still super lucky to be able to compete, though,” he says.
O’Malley’s love for jiu-jitsu is part of what has made him just as endearing to the “traditional” BJJ community as well as barstool MMA fans. His match tonight will be no-gi, but unlike many MMA fighters who train exclusively no-gi to prepare for their matches, O’Malley is frequently seen donning the gi. “I’m usually training in the gi three to five times a week,” he says. “I feel like it helps a ton for me.”
An outspoken marijuana enthusiast, O’Malley has a lot of fans coming from the 420-friendly community. He famously lit up after achieving what he describes as his proudest accomplishment in BJJ — receiving his purple belt from Tanquinho and Tim Welch. However, even though there are still some who wag their fingers at martial artists who use cannabis (some of whom spoke their minds after Nate Diaz smoked a joint at the UFC open workouts), O’Malley believes that there are far more supporters than naysayers in the MMA community.
“I honestly don’t think people really care or look down on people who use cannabis in the MMA community,” he says. “I’d say 80 percent of people in the community use it in some form or another.”
“Sugar” O’Malley will hopefully be making his UFC return sooner rather than later, but if you’re excited about seeing him sweeten up the stage tonight at F2W, don’t worry — it won’t be the last time he dedicates his competitive energy toward jiu-jitsu. “I’d love to continue to compete in jiu-jitsu even when I get back into the Octagon,” he says.
You can watch O’Malley vs. Jackson, plus many other exciting matches when F2W 122 streams live tonight on FloGrappling!