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The opening fight of the main card comes in the Bantamweight division, as ‘Suga’ Sean O’Malley takes on Raulian Paiva. This should be an electric fight to open the card, as O’Malley has proven that he is one of the most entertaining fighters on the roster. Boasting a 6-1 record in the UFC, O’Malley is on the cusp of being ranked. Meanwhile, Paiva comes into this fight on a three-fight win streak. Most recently, Paiva notched a comeback win over Kyler Phillips. A victory which catapulted him into the top fifteen of the Bantamweight rankings.
This is a fun fight to open the main card, and one in which I understand why the UFC has on tap to kick off the PPV. Sean O’Malley is not only a solid fighter, but he has built up a rabid fanbase in such a short time. When the name of the game is to put butt’s in seats and sell PPV’s, O’Malley seems to check off both boxes. A striker to the core, O’Malley’s volume is unmatched. Currently ranked number one all-time in the UFC in strikes landed per minute at 8.37 and strikes differential at 4.94, O’Malley has proven that standing with him just isn’t smart. The key to neutralizing O’Malley is by chopping him down via leg kicks or by implementing a heavy wrestling approach. Two gameplans that don’t really mesh with Raulian Paiva, who is mainly a striker that doesn’t often throw leg strikes. With solid cardio, durability and volume, Paiva looks to takeover in fights the later it goes.
As for a prediction, I have O’Malley. While Paiva has proven to be extremely tough to put away, he has yet to face anyone who can put up the volume that O’Malley can. In Suga’s last fight alone, he landed 230 significant strikes. Paiva in his combined five UFC fights hasn’t even reached that mark. In what I expect to be a dominant performance by O’Malley, I foresee a TKO finish.