Sean O’Malley Claims Pedro Munhoz Was ‘100 Percent’ Looking For A Way Out With Eye Poke: ‘I Was Dominating That Fight’

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UFC 276: Munhoz v O’Malley
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Sean O’Malley left UFC 276 with a no-decision on his record, but he believes that’s only because Pedro Munhoz was desperate to get out of their fight.

The bantamweight matchup ended after an inadvertent eye poke from O’Malley left Munhoz unable to see, which forced the ringside physician to call a stop to the contest in the second round.

Following the fight, O’Malley gave his take on the way it was playing out, saying Munhoz knew he was losing and took the easy way out rather than continuing after the foul occurred.

“100 percent [he was looking for a way out],” O’Malley said at the post-fight press conference. “That’s what’s going on in my mind. I’ll have to rewatch it. I was piecing him up. I didn’t get hit once. He came in there, he said I’m going to kick his legs and try to take him down. He tried kicking my legs and it damaged him more. He couldn’t get me up against the fence. He couldn’t get me down. I was dominating that fight.

“Initially when it happened, I didn’t think it was bad. I thought we’d be fighting in like 20 seconds. I didn’t think the fight was going to be stopped. I was dominating that fight. I checked every one of his leg kicks. I could feel his shins cracking. Every time he would throw a kick, I would check it and I could tell it would hurt him. I didn’t get hit one time. I was dominating that fight. I was piecing him up. I was finding my range. It sucks.”

Munhoz concentrated on the leg kicks in the opening round with O’Malley largely playing defense – and not really unleashing much of his own striking arsenal. That started to change in the second round with O’Malley landing some hard shots in the exchanges, but he never dropped or staggered the Brazilian as they continued trading.

The end came as Munhoz was pressing forward looking to close the distance, and O’Malley extending his hand in a defensive maneuver with a finger then being jabbed into his opponent’s eye. Because the eye poke was deemed accidental, the fight was declared a no-decision.

Prior to the disappointing conclusion, Munhoz had won the first round on two scorecards. That only served to further infuriate O’Malley afterward.

“Have those judges kick me and I’ll check their kick and they’ll be like ‘OK, that hurt,’” O’Malley said. “That’s a strike for me. That hurt Pedro. Every time he would kick me and I checked it, that hurt him. For those judges to say that’s a score for him, they’re completely stupid. Literally just stupid.

“It’s a weird feeling because I do feel like I won the fight but it’s not emotions of winning a fight. I was winning the fight. I can’t believe the judges score. I literally didn’t get hit once. We’re they watching? I didn’t get hit. How could you score that? That makes zero sense.”

O’Malley also revealed what he said to Munhoz after the fight ended and also addressed the problem he’s faced with UFC gloves, a common complaint for numerous eye pokes in the past as well.

“I don’t know how bad the eye poke was,” O’Malley said. “I can’t imagine it being not too bad and not fighting, so I was just saying I’m sorry. I obviously didn’t mean to do that.

“We’ve got to figure out something with the gloves because when you’re wearing the gloves, they almost make your hand want to open. You have to really try to make a fist, so if we had gloves that kind of force your hand to make a fist, I think that would help a lot. ‘I respect you, I’m sorry, that’s about it.’”

As far as what comes next, O’Malley acknowledged that he’s not even thinking about jumping back into another training camp or potentially running it back with Munhoz. More than anything, he is convinced that Munhoz didn’t want to be in there with him any longer.

“I really believe that was best case scenario for Pedro,” O’Malley said. “I was piecing him up. I was way faster than him. He couldn’t hit me, couldn’t hurt me.”