Born and raised in Helena, Montana, O’Malley rose quickly through the Legacy Fighting Alliance circuit before creating buzz as a knockout artist on Dana White’s Contender Series. Known for his outsized personality and signature wild hairstyles, he made a thunderous UFC debut in 2017. He’s been the talk of the town since: With 15 professional victories, including eleven knockouts and counting, O’Malley has built a near flawless record in the bantamweight division. After stacking numerous Fight of the Night and Performance of the Night bonuses, “Sugar” has his eyes firmly set on the UFC World Championship belt.
Growing up in Montana, O’Malley preferred team sports over fighting as a kid, constantly playing soccer, baseball, basketball, and football like many youths his age. “I was consistently playing a sport each season until I was 16. Then my buddy hit me up, ‘You want to go and check out this fighting gym?’” The rest is history: “I literally never stopped going and was always trying to get better as a fighter.”
His will to progress and push his boundaries as a kickboxing and jiu-jitsu athlete soon unlocked doors for O’Malley. “I was knocking people out when I was 16 or 17, kickboxing. And right around then I started to think, ‘Man, I could probably make it!’” After moving to North Dakota and Phoenix, Arizona, the young fighter became noticed for knocking out David Nuzzo and earned an invite to compete on the Dana White Contender Series.
The big breakthrough arrived in 2017 when O’Malley ended up winning the Ultimate Fighter 26. The win punched his ticket to officially join the UFC as a signed professional athlete. Aside from his outstanding track record in the Octagon, O’Malley garnered attention with his signature blend of wild hairstyles and opinionated talk. A polarizing mixture, to say the least, which has won equal amounts of love and hate from MMA fans. But early on, he decided: “I’m going to be myself. And either you like it or don’t like it – I don’t care!”
What’s more, O’Malley has always backed up his extravagance with a near-flawless track record. The bantamweight fighter currently stands at 15-1 overall and 7-1 in the UFC. Eleven out of those victories were earned by knockout, several in Round 1. Looking back on his undefeated 2021 season in the UFC, he said: “Three KO’s. Three bonuses. Three finishes. I can’t complain!”
Asked whether he welcomes the moniker ‘knockout artist’, O’Malley said: “I would say Knockout King, more so! K.O. King is what I self-proclaimed. That’s just what it is. I knock people out in spectacular fashion consistently. I knock people out more often than not!”
At the moment, “Sugar” is recovering from a knee injury and aims for returning to the Octagon in early July. But due to his known preference for fighting in a specific city, he allowed: “It depends on when the next fight happens in Vegas!”
Currently ranked #12 in the 135-pound division, O’Malley said: “The division is stacked! Bantamweight is the best division in the UFC right now.” As he reveals on UNLEASHED, he already has an opponent in mind that would be “a fight in the right direction toward the belt.”