The scary secret Sean O’Malley carried into UFC 292

Sean O'Malley revealed that he couldn't grapple due to an injury from before UFC 292.

By: Anton Tabuena | 1 month ago

After his incredible title win, Sean O’Malley said he was very nervous coming into UFC 292.

“Honestly, this was the most nervous I’ve ever been for a fight. In my eyes, Aljamain Sterling is the best bantamweight of all time,” O’Malley said in his post-fight interview. “So yeah, I was a little bit nervous for this fight, but I never lost the confidence because I know what I possess in this f—ng right hand.” 

MMA: UFC 292 - Sterling vs O'Malley Aug 19, 2023; Boston, MA, USA; Aljamin Sterling (red gloves) fights Sean O'Malley (blue gloves) during UFC 292 at TD Garden. Boston TD Garden MA USA, EDITORIAL USE ONLY PUBLICATIONxINxGERxSUIxAUTxONLY Copyright: xBobxDeChiarax 20230820_szo_om2_0199
IMAGO / USA Today / Bob DeChiara

He revealed the reason for those nerves soon after.

Sean O’Malley says he was injured, couldn’t grapple

“I haven’t grappled in six weeks. I had a muscle strain and I literally couldn’t grapple in six weeks, couldn’t MMA spar,” Sean O’Malley said at the UFC 292 post-fight press conference.

The new champion then revealed that he was extra nervous because there was a chance he could’ve lost due to injury if he was taken down.

“I was the main event in Boston. There was no shot I was pulling out, but we haven’t grappled. Six weeks from today I got a muscle strain right under my rib. Coming into this fight against Aljo, every interview I was saying ‘it was life or death — I cannot get taken down.’ It was because I didn’t know if this would hold up,” he revealed.

“It’s sore right now. I don’t know if it’s from a kick or just the little bit of grappling that we did,” O’Malley said.

“Dealing with those mental demons coming into this fight, knowing I was injured-ish… When I said it was life or death, I was referring to that, but I’m not going to come out and say I was injured.”

Who’s next for new champ Sean O’Malley after UFC 292?

Despite the injury he mentioned, Sean O’Malley was able to land that picture perfect right hand counter to win the UFC bantamweight title. He then mentioned a rematch as his first title defense.

“Did Chito win? Was it boring? Probably. I’ll whoop Chito’s ass in December in Vegas at T-Mobile,” he said. 

Marlon Vera won on the same UFC 292 card, beating Pedro Munhoz by decision. In 2020, Vera handed O’Malley the first and only loss of his MMA career.

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About the author
Anton Tabuena
Anton Tabuena

Anton Tabuena is the Managing Editor for Bloody Elbow. He’s been covering MMA and combat sports since 2009, and has also fought in MMA, Muay Thai and kickboxing.

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