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O'Malley retains bantamweight belt with unanimous decision over Vera in UFC 299

Sean O'Malley Sean O'Malley - The Canadian Press

MIAMI (AP) — Sean O'Malley emphatically defended his bantamweight belt Saturday night, unanimously defeating Marlon (Chito) Vera in UFC 299.

In a fight that he controlled from the opening round, O'Malley (18-1) outclassed Vera with his quickness, precision striking and footwork.

The defending champion threw 344 punches, landing more than 50 per cent of them. He was the more active fighter throughout, hurting Vera (23-9-1) with shots to the body, knees to the face, and countering nearly every one of Vera's connections with one of his own.

It was O’Malley’s first defence of his bantamweight title after stopping former champion Aljamain Sterling 51 seconds into the second round at UFC 292 last August.

Vera handed O'Malley the only defeat of his career nearly four years ago by landing a leg kick that caused O'Malley's right foot to go numb in the first round of UFC 252.

O'Malley has often downplayed that loss — the kick shut down the peroneal nerve in his lower leg, causing temporary loss of feeling — and vowed to dominate in the rematch.

"I’m guessing we can all agree that I’m undefeated still," O'Malley said after Saturday's match.

Immediately after the five-round fight, O'Malley sat down on the canvas after Vera hurt him late with a shot to the body — one that could have been much more significant if it was landed earlier in the fight.

“I tried to stay toe to toe with him and catch him," Vera said. "At the end of the fifth round I landed a nice body that hurt him, but I ran out of time.”

Former interim lightweight champion and future UFC Hall of Famer Dustin Poirier knocked out up-and-comer Benoit Saint Denis with a right hand in the second round of their lightweight match. Saint Denis had hurt Poirier with punches in the early round before the veteran dropped him with a right hook at 2:52 in the second round. The victory moved Poirier into a tie for the fourth-most wins (22) in UFC history.

Jack Della Maddalena stretched his winning streak to 17 with the biggest victory of his career. He stopped Gilbert Burns in the third round of their bout with a crushing knee to the head, moments after it appeared Burns had secured a fight-clinching takedown. Della Maddalena followed the knee with a series of elbows on the ground for a TKO victory at 3:43 in the final round of the 170-pound fight.


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