Sean O’Malley: ‘It was actually a disgusting feeling’ when knee strike blasted Chito Vera in the face

Sean O’Malley wanted a finish at UFC 299, but he can’t be that disappointed after putting on a clinic for five rounds, hitting Chito Vera with everything and the kitchen sink.

O’Malley was stunned at Vera’s ability to absorb punishment, which included one of the nastiest knee strikes in the history of the UFC. With just over a minute remaining in the second round, he threw a knee at the same moment that Vera ducked his head down, and the impact sounded like Aaron Judge rocketing a baseball out of Yankee Stadium.

Replays showed O’Malley’s knee landed flush, but somehow Vera took the shot and just kept coming. In that moment, O’Malley admits the reverberation of his knee bouncing off Vera’s face made him feel a little sick to his stomach.

“I would love know if I broke something in his face with that knee,” O’Malley said on The MMA Hour. “It was the loudest pop I’ve ever heard hitting someone. It was actually a disgusting feeling. It was gross. I would love to see a picture of his face today.”

Vera posted a statement on social media, but he hasn’t shown off any photos showing the aftermath of his fight with O’Malley this past Saturday night. Before he left the cage, Vera spoke to UFC color commentator Joe Rogan, and his face was already swelling up with multiple cuts and bruises from the battering that O’Malley delivered.

As much as it pained him to hear the sound of that knee strike crunching against Vera’s head, O’Malley knows it’s all part of the job, and it’s what they sign up for when competing in the UFC.

“Leading up, I was just so excited to get my hands on him, to beat his ass,” O’Malley said. “It’s a weird thing. Then you hear someone like Dustin Poirier talking about how bad he was feeling, [how] down in the dumps he was, from after that Justin Gaethje fight. I’m sure Chito’s dealing with some s*** right now; I doubt he would disagree. I’m sure he’s not having a great time.

“So there’s a part of me that feels bad for him, and I obviously caused that, but it’s the fight game.”

Despite the narrative that surrounded the fight – O’Malley seeking vengeance for the only loss on his record – the reigning UFC bantamweight champion said that never really fueled him going into the rematch.

“No one in the world looks at that as a win [for ‘Chito’],” O’Malley said. “They officially overturned it, The ‘Suga’ State Athletic Commission, legally overturned it. If anyone looks at that as a win, they’re delusional.

“I’ve never lost and felt like I lost where it was depressing. That first fight I fought Chito, and that happened the way it happened, it was a fluke in my mind. I knew I was better than him. I knew I was. I just knew eventually someday I’d prove it. So I never let that fight bother me ever. I obviously had to go out there and prove it. 50-44 at one point from one of the judges.”

O’Malley definitely backed up his belief with a lopsided win over Vera. But even with that lone blemish on his resume now effectively erased, he still feels there’s more work to do to get respect from his peers.

He already faced criticism after winning the title with a second-round knockout after former champion Aljamain Sterling made an incredibly quick turnaround to face him this past August.

Now, O’Malley expects to hear all about how Vera didn’t deserve the title shot in the first place. and he needs to beat a more legitimate contender to solidify himself as champion. In a strange way, he might actually agree with that assessment.

“I think we could all agree Chito got gifted that title shot,” O’Malley said. “I asked for it. I believe I deserved to be able to ask for it after performing and doing what I did against Aljo. So I asked for the Chito fight, I got the Chito fight, but he got gifted that.

“I think I’ve still got to go out there and prove to the haters and the doubters, that I can beat someone like Merab [Dvalishvili] or Ilia [Topuria] or Cory [Sandhagen], or whoever’s next.”