Sean O’Malley’s coach, Tim Welch, believes the champion will successfully defend the belt at UFC 299. For Welch, this can be predicted just by analyzing Marlon Vera’s recent fights, although he noted that the fighter shouldn’t be underestimated. 

O’Malley will face Vera for a rematch, and this will be an important fight for “Sugar.” Aside from defending his belt, the win can help O’Malley redeem the lone loss on his record, which was given by Vera in 2020. The champ, who refuses to concede the loss to this day, is confident about making the success this time, and his coach supports the idea.

In his recent interview on The MMA Hour, Welch highlighted Vera’s record and performance in his recent fights. He particularly pointed out the fighter’s 2023 matches against Cory Sandhagen and Pedro Munhoz. For him, the fighter’s win over the latter is underwhelming, while his loss to “Sandman” will be repeated at UFC 299 when O’Malley starts his quick moves.

“That was not that long ago, so we watched film on that,” shared Welch. “Watched film on Cory Sandhagen, because Cory standing there, obviously he switches stances, moves around a lot, and how did [Vera] go about that fight? What did he do? It seems like he just got confused, and he got broke mentally. So if that Chito shows up on March 9, it’s going to be really bad for him.

“I just think that Cory Sandhagen bout is just going to be in his mind,” Welch added, “and when he feels Sean’s movement and Sean’s speed and his reaction times, I feel like that’s going to come back into play into his mind. Like, f***, he just couldn’t get started. He felt like he just couldn’t reach him. He just couldn’t get to him. He was too slow. And I feel like that’s probably going to come back, especially in the big cage.”

Ultimately, Welch believes there’s been little improvement in Vera since he last met O’Malley in the cage. Despite that, he admitted that his team underestimated the 31-year-old, a mistake they will no longer do.

“I don’t think [he’s improved] a ton. I don’t think his confidence is going to be high,” Welch said about Vera. “And the way he showed up against Cory Sandhagen, he got smoked by Cory Sandhagen. He barely got past a little, short — no diss, but — Pedro Munhoz, who’s not very fast and big, he’s a little bit older. So, I don’t think his confidence is super high.

“But Chito’s dangerous. He is really, really good at getting beat up and then winning, which is a dangerous thing. He’s very durable, he trains hard, he’s got a good coach, and he’s dangerous. Last time we fought him, we [underestimated] him. We thought he was just slow and clunky, and then that happened. So we’re not underestimating him this time.”

Previous articleSaint-Denis expects ‘tough fight’ against Poirier at UFC 299
Next article‘Best-on-earth’ Covington names Garry, Burns, Thompson as next targets