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Before Their Hotly Anticipated Rematch, Take A Look At The Roads “Suga” Sean O’Malley And Marlon “Chito” Vera Took To UFC 299: O’Malley vs Vera 2
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Sean O’Malley vs Marlon “Chito” Vera | Fight Timeline UFC 299

Before Their Hotly Anticipated Rematch, Take A Look At The Roads “Suga” Sean O’Malley And Marlon “Chito” Vera Took To UFC 299: O’Malley vs Vera 2

When “Suga” Sean O’Malley and Marlon “Chito” Vera met in the co-main event at UFC 292: Miocic vs Cormier 3, the general MMA fanbase was as excited for the two young bantamweights to do battle nearly as much as they were for the conclusion of an epic heavyweight trilogy. 

That spoke to not only the skills of the two 135ers, but also the hype around them, particularly around O’Malley. Perhaps the most hyped fighter to come off Dana White’s Contender Series to that point, O’Malley was taking a jump in competition in his fifth Octagon appearance. Meanwhile, Vera was a veteran presence in the division, having racked up a 9-5 record in his six years on the roster while coming off a controversial loss to Song Yadong three months prior. 

How To Watch UFC 299: O'Malley vs Vera 2

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What followed surprised many, as Vera was able to kick O’Malley’s leg, causing the then-undefeated O’Malley to struggle with drop foot. Vera pounced, earning the first-round stoppage, and celebrated by saying “Welcome to the Chito Show,” in a parody of O’Malley’s famous words from his DWCS victory.  

Since then, they’ve combined for 13 fights, nine Performance Bonuses and countless highlights as they climbed the bantamweight ladder. When O’Malley beat Aljamain Sterling to earn the UFC title at UFC 292 and Vera coming away victorious himself, we all knew the rematch was imminent. Now, the two are set to duke it out with everything on the line at UFC 299: O’Malley vs Vera 2. 

Before they step back into the Octagon across from one another, let’s take a look at how they both got here:

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)

December 19, 2020

Vera vs José Aldo (Unanimous Decision Loss)

“Chito” had a chance to parlay a boatload of momentum from his win over O’Malley into something even greater when he stood across from former featherweight champ José Aldo, who was doing his best to make a run at bantamweight in the final chapter of his career. Aldo was just coming off a title fight loss to Petr Yan for the then-vacant bantamweight belt, so a win over The King of Rio would’ve been huge for Vera. 

While Vera started strong, Aldo leaned on his veteran know-how to regain control of the fight in the second and third rounds.

March 27, 2021

O’Malley vs Thomas Almeida (KO Win Performance of the Night)

The haters and doubters came out in droves after O’Malley lost to Vera. O’Malley fanned the flames a bit when he leaned into saying how he still saw himself as undefeated despite the Vera result. So, when O’Malley was set to face Thomas Almeida, the “just kick him in the legs” contingent came out with gusto. 

MORE O'MALLEY: Fight Week Interview | Top Finishes

O’Malley responded emphatically, despite a premature celebration in the first round. He punctuated a bounce-back victory with a shaky-legs celebration clearly pointed at those who doubted his durability. 

Sean O'Malley reacts after his knockout victory over Thomas Almeida of Brazil in their bantamweight fight during the UFC 260 event at UFC APEX on March 27, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Sean O'Malley reacts after his knockout victory over Thomas Almeida of Brazil in their bantamweight fight during the UFC 260 event at UFC APEX on March 27, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

June 19, 2021

Vera vs Davey Grant (Unanimous Decision Win - Fight of the Night)

Vera dipped into his past to get back on track after losing two of his three appearances in 2020. Five years before, Grant bested Vera via unanimous decision in London, and Vera was in need of a win to recement himself in the bantamweight rankings. What followed was a gritty, hard-fought effort which earned Fight of the Night honors. In the end, Vera got his bounce-back win sprinkled with a little revenge on top. 

View Vera's Athlete Profile

July 10, 2021

O’Malley vs Kris Moutinho (TKO Win – Fight of the Night)

“Suga” was racking up wins in impressive fashion, but there were those who still had doubts rooted in his strength of schedule. While Almeida was a veteran, he wasn’t someone of Vera’s caliber at the time of their fight. O’Malley understood, but he could only fight the people in front of him. 

Originally, O’Malley expected to fight Louis Smolka and hoped to become the first person to knock out the Hawaiian. However, when Smolka was forced to pull out of the bout and Massachusetts native Kris Moutinho stepped in,  “Suga” knew he needed to deliver something dominant. The record-setting performance featured his full arsenal of accurate strikes before he earned the finish late in the third round. 

November 6, 2021

Vera vs Frankie Edgar (KO Win - Performance of the Night)

Marlon Vera of Ecuador kicks Frankie Edgar in their bantamweight fight during the UFC 268 event at Madison Square Garden on November 06, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Marlon Vera of Ecuador kicks Frankie Edgar in their bantamweight fight during the UFC 268 event at Madison Square Garden on November 06, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

While Vera’s win over Grant was needed, it didn’t necessarily make a particular statement. That wasn’t the case with his next performance.

Competing in Madison Square Garden and facing the beloved Frankie Edgar, Vera found himself a bit behind the pace as the fight creeped into the third round. One front kick changed all of that, and it was Vera who walked away with a stunning knockout win.

MORE UFC 299: Main Event Spotlight | Fight By Fight Preview | Coach Conversation

December 11, 2021

O’Malley vs Raulian Paiva (TKO Win - Performance of the Night)

O’Malley kept the train rolling in his third fight in less than nine months and sixth in the last 20 months. Paiva came into the bout on a three-fight winning streak and having just bested Kyler Phillips in a Fight of the Night effort five months beforehand. After perhaps celebrating a little early on a couple occasions with Almeida, O’Malley swarmed Paiva when he smelled blood and produced yet another highlight-reel finish.

Sean O'Malley punches Raulian Paiva of Brazil in their bantamweight bout during the UFC 269 on December 11, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Sean O'Malley punches Raulian Paiva of Brazil in their bantamweight bout during the UFC 269 on December 11, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

April 30, 2022

Vera vs Rob Font (Unanimous Decision Win - Fight of the Night)

Vera’s highlight finish over Edgar earned him his first main event opportunity opposite Top 10 stalwart Rob Font, and Vera passed the test with flying colors.

Despite Font landing a high volume of strikes, Vera dominated with the more impactful shots throughout the 25 minutes. With a variety of kicks, punches, elbows and knees, Vera tore Font up on the feet en route to a decision victory.

July 2, 2022

O’Malley vs Pedro Munhoz (No Contest – Accidental Eye Poke)

View O'Malley's Athlete Profile

After plenty of wondering about how O’Malley would fare against anyone in the Top 15, fans and doubters alike were intrigued to see how he would fare against the all-action Pedro Munhoz. However, the bout would prove anticlimactic. The two fought at a slow pace in the first round, and in the second, an inadvertent eye-poke rendered Munhoz unable to continue. Instead of answering any questions, more continued to buzz around “Suga.”

Marlon Vera of Ecuador knocks out Dominick Cruz with a high kick in a bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at Pechanga Arena on August 13, 2022 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Marlon Vera of Ecuador knocks out Dominick Cruz with a high kick in a bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at Pechanga Arena on August 13, 2022 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

August 13, 2022

Vera vs Dominick Cruz (KO Win - Performance of the Night)

While O’Malley’s trajectory up the division was mired in unfortunate events, Vera was doing his best to show he was the next contender in line.

In his second main event opportunity, against longtime former champion Dominick Cruz in Cruz’s adopted home of San Diego, Vera once again found himself a little bit behind while he waited to find his target. In the third round, Vera processed his reads, feinted a punch and launched a heavy kick to the face of Cruz, who went crashing to the canvas.

MORE "CHITO" VERA: Top Finishes | Fight Week Interview

For the second time in three fights, Vera showed that he could change the course of a fight at a moment’s notice and took home his fourth consecutive performance bonus.

October 22, 2022

O’Malley vs Petr Yan (Split Decision Win - Fight of the Night)

Sean O'Malley Octagon Interview | UFC 280: Oliveira vs Makhachev
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Sean O'Malley Octagon Interview | UFC 280: Oliveira vs Makhachev
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This was the exact test everyone wanted for O’Malley. After Yan fell to Sterling in their rematch, there was truly nobody better to test O’Malley’s championship aspirations than “No Mercy.”

Competing in Abu Dhabi — O’Malley’s first fight outside of Las Vegas under the UFC banner — O’Malley loudly answered the critics’ questions. He earned Yan’s respect quickly via stiff defensive grappling, as well as a few thunderous shots, and he went strike-for-strike with one of the sharpest strikers in the division. Perhaps most impressively, O’Malley responded well after Yan rocked him with a clean punch midway through the fight. While the fight was close and some had qualms with the scorecards, nearly everyone walked away from that fight believing O’Malley, at the very least, belonged in the Octagon with the best in the world.

March 25, 2023

Vera vs Cory Sandhagen (Split Decision Loss)

Vera was scheduled to fight Cory Sandhagen in February 2023 before they were granted the main event slot in San Antonio a month later, so both men extended their camps accordingly. In his third consecutive main event, Vera struggled a bit with a more well-rounded attack from Sandhagen than most anticipated. With Sandhagen mixing in some grappling, Vera could not find his rhythm or range to land the big shot he had become accustomed to finding.  The result was his first loss in more than two years, snapping his four-fight winning streak.  

August 19, 2023

Vera vs Pedro Munhoz (Unanimous Decision Win)

Originally slated to fight former two-division champion Henry Cejudo at UFC 292, Vera ended up fighting Munhoz after Cejudo suffered an injury. The ensuing fight proceeded at a competitive pace but lacked the big highlight moment Vera usually provided. Regardless, many figured a win would position “Chito” well should O’Malley take care of business later in the night.

Significant Stats | UFC 299: O’Malley vs Vera 2

O’Malley vs Aljamain Sterling (KO Win - Performance of the Night)

In his 11th UFC fight, O’Malley became the undisputed bantamweight champion. The pressure was immense as he faced Sterling, the most accomplished UFC bantamweight champion to date, who had the style that, hypothetically, was the worst matchup for “Suga.” O’Malley’s defensive grappling held up well in the first round, and in the second, he uncorked a right hand that flipped the bantamweight division on its head.

Everyone knew what was on O’Malley’s mind next: revenge, but this time with gold on the line.

Order UFC 299: O'Malley vs Vera 2

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