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Sean O'Malley e Marlon Vera se encaram em coletiva de imprensa realizada em Las Vegas em dezembro de 2023 (Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
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Main Event Spotlight | UFC 299: O’Malley vs Vera 2

Go Inside The Numbers Of Saturday's Bantamweight Title Clash

Rematches are peculiar things in MMA, and the main event of UFC 299: O’Malley vs Vera 2 is not likely to be an exception. Emotions like pride, revenge and self-doubt remain immeasurable, and how each fighter has evolved since they first battled is difficult to predict. All we know for sure when we prognosticate are the numbers, and while they might never give us a complete picture, they do give a roadmap for what could happen following the final two walks to the Octagon Saturday night in Miami.

Order UFC 299: O'Malley vs Vera 2

First up, we have the bantamweight champion: Sean O’Malley. When he scored his contract-winning knockout on Dana White’s Contender Series back in 2017, Dana White knew the fighter had that intangible “it” quality, and since that evening, “Suga” has gone on to validate the UFC CEO’s instincts again and again, culminating in his knockout of Aljamain Sterling to secure the bantamweight title last August at UFC 292.

“I know what I possess and it’s this right hand, baby!” O’Malley excitedly told Joe Rogan in the Octagon following the bout. “I’m just that f****** good!”

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Sure, that was pure boasting, but the numbers back him up across his career to date. His striking game is simply unmatched at 135 pounds. He averages 7.29 significant strikes per minute, the highest in bantamweight history and the ninth highest in all of UFC history. He landed 230 shots on Kris Moutinho alone, most ever in a three-round bantamweight contest. That resulted in a +160 significant strike differential, the largest ever in a three-round bout at any weight. His overall 61.2% significant striking average gives him the distinction of being the most accurate striker in division history.

With that many punches coming your way, the odds are high that a knockout is in your future. Ask Moutinho, Sterling, Raulian Paiva, Thomas Almeida, Eddie Wineland, and José Quiñónez, all of whom had their evenings ended early by O’Malley’s hands. That reputation for crowd-pleasing moments has earned him eight post-fight performance bonuses, tied for most in division history with former champion Dillashaw. He’ll be alone in first place if he can repeat the magic Saturday in Kaseya Center.

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Lest we forget, however, the lone loss on O’Malley’s professional record belongs to the man he’ll face again in that Miami main event: one Marlon Vera.

Marlon Vera KO's Dominick Cruz in their bantamweight main event bout during the UFC Fight Night event at Pechanga Arena
Marlon Vera KO's Dominick Cruz in their bantamweight main event bout during the UFC Fight Night event at Pechanga Arena on August 13, 2022 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

If the numbers tell us that O’Malley is the more proficient striker, they would also suggest that Vera is the more well-rounded fighter. “Chito” at present is the only bantamweight in company history in the division’s top 5 for both knockouts and submissions.

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In addition to O’Malley, Vera also owns KOs over Dominick Cruz, Frankie Edgar, Andre Ewell, Frankie Saenz, and Wuliji Buren under the UFC banner. That’s good for second place at 135 pounds and just one away from the record held by the retired Dillashaw. He also had a head kick KO of Brad Pickett at a 140-pound catchweight back in 2017.

Sean O'Malley reacts after his knockout victory over Aljamain Sterling in the UFC bantamweight championship fight during the UFC 292 event at TD Garden on August 19, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC)
Sean O'Malley reacts after his knockout victory over Aljamain Sterling in the UFC bantamweight championship fight during the UFC 292 event at TD Garden on August 19, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC)

Central to that striking game is Vera’s ability to knock down his opponents under any circumstances. He has ten in his career—most in bantamweight history—and scored three in a single fight on two separate occasions. Very few can make that claim, and the few that can include names like Anderson Silva, Conor McGregor and Israel Adesanya. His knockdowns earned him victories in fights like the one against Cruz and a decision nod over Rob Font; fights where he was far behind on the significant strike differential.

But striking is only half the story with Vera. The Ecuadorian grew up idolizing Georges St-Pierre and owns a black belt in jiu-jitsu. Throughout his UFC career to date, he’s attempted 16 submissions, more than any other bantamweight. Four of those attempts finished the fight: Nohelin Hernandez, Guido Cannetti, Brian Kelleher and Roman Salazar. The triangle armbar of Salazar is a particular work of art. Less than a dozen have ever been successful in UFC history. You can watch that one here on UFC FIGHT PASS.

Marlon Vera | Top Finishes
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Marlon Vera | Top Finishes
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Vera’s 10 combined finishes at 135 pounds cement his place for most finishes in bantamweight history. Throw in three decision wins and he sits in second place for most overall victories. Only former champ Sterling owns more, and he can tie him with a win this Saturday.

RELATED: O'Malley vs Vera 1 Free Fight 

The first meeting between the two men at UFC 252 ended with a Vera TKO victory at 4:40 of the first round. Neither man had a takedown and Vera landed 60% of his strikes versus O’Malley’s 47%. Vera appeared to capitalize on a leg/ankle injury that hobbled “The Suga Show,” swarming in as O’Malley hit the mat and ending him with a flurry of punches and elbows. It was a factor neither fighter can count on heading into Miami this week, but it set the stage perfectly for a title-fight rematch.

Sean O'Malley and Marlon Vera of Ecuador face off during the UFC 252 weigh-in at UFC APEX on August 14, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Sean O'Malley and Marlon Vera of Ecuador face off during the UFC 252 weigh-in at UFC APEX on August 14, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

UFC 299: O'Malley vs Vera 2 took place live from Kaseya Center in Miami, Florida on March 9, 2024. See the final Prelims & Main Card Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass