Skip to Main Content

Sean O’Malley’s best fighting tactics


By Jessica Militello

“Suga” Sean O’Malley’s career has been on the rise since he first got on the UFC’s radar back in 2017 on Dana White’s Contender Series. Since then, he’s had an impressive record of 15-1 and earned a reputation for being a knockout artist, watching his opponents fall and casually walking away like it was lightwork. 

When it comes to O'Malley, a lot of the time, there's talk about the kinds of opponents he agrees to fight and whether he should finally fight ranked opponents, but there really aren't enough conversations about his fluid and slick fighting style. Sean has a background in kickboxing, boxing, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, but a lot of his fighting tactics would have him fit right in with Jeet Kune Do.

Here are some of Sean O’Malley’s more JKD-friendly fighting techniques-

Progressive indirect attacks

Sean plays a lot of mind games in his fights and he’s a big fan of popping a shoulder feint and continuing to move, using uppercut faints to a straight jab, and overall continually using feints to get a good read on his opponent before attacking. In some cases, his opponent will start to get used to all the feinting and not react, and that’s when Sean will make his move and attack. It definitely takes a lot of patience to play this out enough and get an opponent to let their guard down to it, but the payoff has been worth it and has been a tactic that helped Sean win his fights. A great example of this is when he knocked out Eddie Wineland using this exact tactic.

Controlling the distance and footwork

Sean has a 72-inch reach and he’s pretty tall for the bantamweight division, standing at 5’11. He definitely knows how to use his height to his advantage. You have to really appreciate the small details and nuances in his game, and similar to the mind games he plays with all of his feints, he uses his footwork in the same way by continually switching his stance from orthodox to southpaw, shifting back and forth from his left to right foot, making it hard for his opponents to catch him or properly read what he’s about to do, and using his height to keep his opponents out of reach while using his length to land hard front kicks. 

Sidekicks, oblique stomps, and more mind games

The oblique stomp (or oblique kick) is an often debated tool these days on whether or not the move should remain legal in the UFC, but as of now, it’s still fair play and O’Malley likes to use this vicious kick from time to time. In this setting, fighters legally need to land it above the opponent’s knee, but even then it’s still a nasty move that can really hurt your opponent. Sean is also a big fan of the sidekick, which was actually one of Bruce Lee’s favorite kicks. Because of Sean’s length, he really has the chance to move his opponent across the octagon when he lands it. He also uses the front kick a lot as a great tactic to keep distance while still causing damage. Using these kicks along with this elusive footwork, he has a fake where he pretends to look the other way followed by landing a kick to close the distance. In one of his more recent fights at UFC 260, he had an interesting tactic where he turned his heel, faking like he was going to do a roundhouse kick, only to land a front kick, completely throwing his opponent off. 

Keeping the fight off the ground

Despite having a brown belt and extensive training in Jiu-Jitsu, a fight with Sean O’Malley doesn’t go to the ground too often. While this is sometimes criticized, with his record, it’s clear he doesn’t have any trouble finishing his opponents on his feet. It’s definitely a necessary skill to know how to defend yourself both standing and grappling, but at the same time, from a self-defense standpoint, if you can avoid taking a fight to the ground, there’s less risk involved, especially in the street, when you don’t know your opponent or if they have a knife. O’Malley uses smart tactics with his feints, footwork, using distance, and his powerful striking to finish his opponents without having to use groundwork. 

 

Boxers Who Fight with Their Strong Side Forward

By Jessica Militello Most fighters that you watch from boxing to MMA adopt a stance that is either orthodox or southpaw. In these combat sports, it has always been a tradition to stand with your less dominant side forward and your lead hand...

How Martial Arts Help Develop Greater Self Discipline

Originally posted on 08/09/2016 While practicing martial arts is an excellent way to improve your physical health and learn self-defense maneuvers, its greatest advantage is arguably in its ability to help finesse self-discipline...

Should the Oblique Stomp be Banned from the UFC?

By Jessica Militello Every once in a while the MMA community revisits the debate of whether or not moves like the oblique stomp should be made illegal in the UFC. The question has been getting attention again lately after viewers watched the...

Best Martial Arts Styles for Kids

By Jessica Militello If you are looking for a martial art to enroll your child in, you may be wondering which style is the best for them to learn and have fun while still being appropriate for their age. Every martial art has a list of benefits...

Best Martial Arts For Self Defense

Originally posted on 07/27/2018 Imagine being attacked. How would you protect yourself? Violence should be avoided, however, some circumstances leave one with no choice. Your body is the only weapon that you’ll have with you at all...

How do I choose a martial arts school for my child?

By Jessica Militello There are several criteria that are a good idea to look for when choosing a martial arts school for your kids. Obviously anytime you are investing time and money into something, you want to make sure it’s the right...

Should I Put My Kids in Martial Arts?

By Jessica Militello With all of the many choices of hobbies and sports to enroll your child in, it can become a little overwhelming to find the best one that both you and your child feel most confident about signing up for. Martial arts is a...

Understanding the Meaning of Karate Belt Colors

Originally posted on 08/11/2015 Updated: 5/19/2020 Most people have heard of someone who holds a black belt in karate or another martial art. These people are familiar with the skill and accomplishment it represents. However, there...

Will Martial Arts Help My Child Make Friends?

By Jessica Militello =Martial arts has many benefits including learning self-defense, getting regular physical activity, and learning Bruce Lee’s teachings while training in Jeet Kune Do. But one benefit that both adults and children...

Can Martial Arts Help Kids Dealing with Anxiety?

By Jessica Militello Anxiety can be very uncomfortable and scary for anyone to deal with, but for parents who have children who deal with anxiety, it can feel frustrating to watch your kids struggle with it, especially if you are unsure of how to...

Cobra Kai Characters We Love and Hate

By Jessica Militello Warning: This article may contain spoilers if you have not completed the first three seasons of the show Cobra Kai. While fans of Cobra Kai anxiously wait for season 4 after a pretty intense season 3 finale, it’s...

Some of the Most Vicious Knee Knockouts in the UFC

By Jessica Militello Some of the most brutal and historic moments in the UFC have been from fights finished with knockouts using knees. Fans have a tendency to look at a fighter’s grappling, striking, and kicks, and can tend to overlook...

Do UFC Fighters use Jeet Kune Do?

Originally posted on 03/30/2021 By Jessica Militello Something that adds even more fun and excitement to watching UFC fights on Saturday night is recognizing some of the tools that fighters use from your own martial arts training. Some...

The Origins of Kickboxing

Originally posted on 12/29/2014 When most people think of kickboxing, they imagine some type of combination between American boxing and martial arts kicking. Surely, that’s what it can look like to an untrained eye, as it takes...

Is Jeet Kune Do the Best Self-Defense for You?

Originally posted on 03/27/2019 By Jessica Militello In Williamsburg, Brooklyn, one of the four locations of New York Martial Arts Academy, passersby regularly stop and take out their camera phones to capture an image of the massive,...

What Is Grappling in MMA?

Original Post: 01/06/2015 MMA, or Mixed Martial Arts, is a popular sport. Few people understand that it typically involves striking, wrestling, and grappling - basically fighting on your feet, getting your opponent to the ground, then...

Using Jeet Kune Do Footwork to Avoid Getting Punched

The art of Jeet Kune Do created by Bruce Lee integrates all facets of combat. Various styles are borrowed from boxing, fencing, and other types of fighting. But one of the things that makes it truly unique is Jeet Kune Do footwork. If you...

The 5 Most Effective Types of Takedown Defense

If you want to achieve success as a martial artist, you need to improve your takedown defense as a way to avoid being brought to the ground during a fight. When mixed martial arts (MMA) first started, skilled grapplers won many of the first...
Page: 12345678 - All