Marlon Vera didn’t read the script. He came into this UFC 252 co-main event bout against Sean O’Malley as a significant underdog. Vera had a chip on his shoulder. He wanted to disappoint the casuals who expected O’Malley to win by somersault tornado kick KO.
O’Malley has done everything right since his return from suspension this year. His KO of Eddie Wineland was one of the best of the year. Vera was a major step-up in class but one that O’Malley thought that he could get past very easily.
However, it all ended badly for O’Malley. He suffered a devastating loss that puts a major dent in his hopes of a big fight against Cody Garbrandt this year. Check out how Vera got the win below after O’Malley’s leg injury. A win is a win, but this is a win with an asterisk.
— UFC (@ufc) August 16, 2020
O’Malley actually started this fight well. He moved efficiently and landed some heavy leg kicks. Meanwhile, Vera found O’Malley’s distance very difficult to deal with. However, the defining moment of this short fight came about halfway through the first and only round.
“Chito” tried to claim that he injured O’Malley when he checked one of his kicks, but it seems like the Arizona native damaged himself. His leg went from under him midway through the round. Instantly, he slowed down. Credit to Vera because he sensed blood.
He waited for his moment and then went forward with strikes. O’Malley lost balance and fell down. Vera burst in with ground-and-pound. He landed one hard elbow and may have achieved a flash KO. Anyway, Herb Dean intervened and stopped the obviously compromised O’Malley from taking any more damage.
— UFC (@ufc) August 16, 2020
You don’t want to win a fight this way because everybody is going to question it. But Vera was happy to give the finger to everybody who doubted him. However, it’s impossible to blame him for that. It will be interesting to see how the UFC responds to this. Will they push Vera forward or will they try and make a rematch?
It is a blow for O’Malley but it shouldn’t dent his star power too much. First of all, it was a freak injury. Vera didn’t beat him emphatically and he can rightfully claim that he dominated the round up until that point. A rematch would be perfect for O’Malley.
However, Vera will justifiably want to move onwards and fight someone higher up the food chain. But he won’t care for getting another “W” on his record.
Sean O'Malley leaves the Octagon on a stretcher after his freak injury 😫
— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) August 16, 2020
This isn’t the first time that O’Malley suffered such an injury. In 2018, he fought Andre Soukhamthath and did the same thing. However, he was able to get the win that time around. Back then, he told MMA Fighting:
“They said it wasn’t broken, but they said I’ve got a previous fracture in there from before the fight, so I’m gonna figure out what’s wrong with it. It’s hurt pretty much nonstop, so we’ll see. Every fight I’m in I throw a lot of kicks. I land with my feet a lot, I’ve had a lot of foot issues because of that. I’ve had a lot of foot injuries so I wasn’t surprised.”
“It was a super weird feeling. I couldn’t feel my whole foot when I put it on the ground. Every time I put pressure on it, it wasn’t there — it was super weird. It sucked. What I understand is it would be better if it was broken because it would be easier to heal than ligament tears. I think I would almost rather it would be broken, but we’re going to check it out and we’ll see where we can go from there.”