Sean O’Malley has been striving for greatness for almost a decade.
‘Suga’ finally realised his true potential when he dropped and stopped Aljamain Sterling to become the new bantamweight champion at UFC 292 on Saturday night.
While most awestruck fans simply used social media to react to his massive upset win at Boston’s TD Garden, one went digging through O’Malley’s old tweets.
They stumbled across a poignant post from December 27, 2014.
“I wanna be great someday,” O’Malley wrote three months before his MMA debut.
The 28-year-old spent the next few years building his record to 7-0 before Dana White asked him to compete on a new show called ‘The Contender Series.’
Rap legend Snoop Dogg was bizarrely on commentary duty when O’Malley scored a viral knockout win and earned a UFC contract.
Four wins later, the American was on the cusp of big things after combining his unique fighting ability with an engrossing personality to become a fan favourite.
However, he suffered a setback in the first true UFC test.
O’Malley injured his foot early and was stopped inside one round when he fought Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera at UFC 252 in August 2020.
Undeterred, the eccentric MMA star scored three consecutive knockout wins over Thomas Almeida, Kris Moutinho, and Raulian Paiva.
Another shot at greatness came when he was booked to face a former bantamweight champion who had recently matched Sterling for nine rounds.
O’Malley went to war with Petr Yan at UFC 280 and proved he is an elite-level fighter by emerging from their Fight of the Night contest with a split decision victory.
The close nature of their scrap left some questioning O’Malley.
But there was no doubt about who won when he fought Sterling.
A heavy knockdown was followed by 19 unanswered ground strikes before veteran Marc Goddard decided he’d seen enough and stepped in to save the most successful 135lb champion of all time.
White put the belt on O’Malley before he used his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan to express a desire to avenge the only defeat of his career.
It’s hoped he’ll rematch Vera at UFC 296 in December before adding to his legacy by crossing over to boxing for a fight with 29-0-star Gervonta Davis.