At UFC 252 in 2020, Vera stalled the rise of the highly touted O’Malley via first-round TKO. The finish came after a leg kick appeared to induce a case of drop foot for “Sugar,” which the Ecuadorian took advantage of by later ground-and-pounding his way to victory.
Since then, though, O’Malley has refused to acknowledge the result as a blemish on his otherwise unbeaten record. Ahead of his return at UFC 260 last March, the Montana native explained why he doesn’t see his record as anything other than perfect.
“I think I wasn’t beaten that night because my skills weren’t as good,” O’Malley told ESPN MMA. “Literally, his big toe hit my peroneal nerve and it caused drop foot. It wasn’t a calf kick. Calf kicks hurt bad, but they don’t give you drop foot. At least not the first one. I didn’t feel like I lost because my skills weren’t better than his. It just happened that way.” (h/t Sportskeeda)
While having a legitimate victory downplayed over and over might prove frustrating for many, “Chito” is actually thankful for O’Malley’s mindset.
Vera: ‘O’Malley Is Basically Promoting Me’
During a recent appearance on Paddy Pimblett’s Chattin’ Pony Podcast, “The Baddy” asked Vera whether he holds any ill will towards O’Malley for his consistent post-fight remarks.
But Vera sees things differently than perhaps most would expect. In claiming to be undefeated, the Ecuadorian believes that O’Malley drives people to view his record. In turn, that leads them to a certain red column on his professional résumé with the name ‘Marlon Vera’ attached to it.
Any publicity is good publicity, “Chito” believes.
“I don’t give a f*ck (about what he says),” Vera said. “Every time he says that, he’s basically promoting me. Because new people go to the record, see a loss, TKO loss, KO loss, and they’ll be like, ‘Wait a minute.’ It’s just free publicity. So, I take it. I make more money out of that… one thousand percent (any publicity is good publicity).”
Since their 2020 contest, Vera has appeared open to running it back, even accusing O’Malley of turning down a rematch offer.
While their positions on the bantamweight ladder have made a second dance somewhat unrealistic in the past, O’Malley has the chance to close the gap on Vera tomorrow when he meets #1-ranked contender Petr Yan at UFC 280.
With a victory, “Sugar” will firmly arrive in the title picture, where Vera has existed since outpointing Rob Font in his main event debut earlier this year.
Would you like to see Marlon Vera and Sean O’Malley run it back down the line?
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