Grappling Industries Pheonix produced a truly bizarre moment over the weekend as an elite leglock expert, Danaher Death Squad brown belt Robert Degle, faced off against one of the UFC’s biggest rising stars right now, Sean O’Malley. The two men both entered the advanced no gi division and competed at 155lbs alongside 5 other men, although Degle also competed in the 145lbs division which only had one other competitor. The end result showed the clear difference between an MMA competitor who is looking to improve his level of grappling and a truly top-tier BJJ athlete as Degle came away with the gold medal.
Sean O’Malley still had a good showing though and he managed to come away with a podium placement regardless, while Degle also earned another Grappling Industries gold medal in the 145lbs division too. O’Malley was last seen competing at UFC 252 where he lost to Marlon “Chito” Vera by TKO in a fight that saw him succumb to an injury relatively early in the fight, towards the end of the first round. He’s had no fight announced as yet and no timeline revealed for his recovery but after his first professional loss in MMA, it’s understandable that O’Malley might want to take some time off to ensure the injury is fully healed and to improve his overall skillset.
This isn’t the first time that O’Malley has competed at a reasonably high level in grappling matches as he also represented Team UFC at Quintet Ultra, a team grappling event where he went 1-1-1. He defeated Takanori Gomi by Guillotine Choke before being submitted by Hector Lombard via Ankle Lock, the final then saw him fight to a draw with Gilbert Melendez.
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Had a great opportunity to compete against the rising UFC star @sugaseanmma in a @grapplingindustries event here in Phoenix, Arizona. For Sean to compete in such an event demonstrates a very respectable desire to grow as a martial artist. Realistically he had nothing practical to gain by doing this event. The man has over a million followers and is surely making bank in MMA. So why do the event? We spoke afterwards and he explained that he simply loved JuJitsu. I hope the experience of competing against me helps push him to further development as a martial artist. I was a fan before but an even bigger one now 🙏