Sean O'Malley is beautiful to watch, he blends movements from different art forms and uses his fluidity to freeze and catch opponents while they watch the show in front of their eyes.
This weekend was no different, Sean froze Raulian Paiva and drew him onto his shots. Catching him clean and finishing the job up against the fence with a devastating body-head combination.
His unorthodox movement patterns create opening and angles of shots that his opponents are not used to. Fighters typically see shots coming from typical angles, and Sean throws them from completely different ones. His strength is his unorthodox movements that are technically wrong, no one would walk into a gym and be taught the footwork patterns he uses, but they work for him.
These patterns that are his strengths, are in a strange way also his weaknesses. He consistently steps with his rear foot on crosses, which gives him almost double the range of his strikes. When it lands, it can be massively effective. But this also consistently places him at a disadvantage and at odd ranges when he misses.
Sean's whole style has these types of movements that are massively effective because he has made them work for him. But if he misses a step, or is just in the wrong position at the wrong time, it could spell disaster.
Fighting is consistently a game of inches, so far the inches have worked to his advantage, but if the correct fighter picks up on these details at the correct time, one day they may not.
Sean moves in and out of range with his strikes relying on the speed of his feet, with his hands low and his head & chin leaned back. When pressured, Sean likes to cut big angles or move into a new space as quickly as possible. His gift is that he can do this incredibly quickly, his curse is that he does this with technically incorrect movement patterns. When pressured, he consistently crosses his feet to quickly move into a new position in the octagon.
This works against fighters who chase, but when facing fighters who understand how to cut off the octagon, this will not work as well. Chito Vera did a decent job of this and that is mostly how he found success early. Someone like Petr Yan would most likely cut Sean down from the bottom up.
Sean also stands with an almost side on position, where his body is bladed. This allows for swift and agile in and out movements, but places his lead leg in a compromised position to leg and calf kicks. Typically for calf kicks a fighters wants to be able to blade his shin to the outside, and since his shin is bladed so far to the inside, it leaves no time to switch that position. Jose Aldo for example checks calf kicks incredibly well, but his body is almost square in his stance and therefore he does not have the same movement ability as O'Malley.
His whole style is built around movement patterns that one would typically say is incorrect if you saw anyone else doing them, but when Sean does them they're beautiful to watch.
So with all this being said, Sean O'Malley is one of the best fighters to watch right now. He is flashy, flamboyant and incredibly skilled. None of this is trying to take away from his massive amount of skill, I am just pointing out that the reason why he is successful, will most likely also be his downfall. I am however hoping he figures it out and becomes a huge star.