Sean O'Malley vs. Marlon Vera prediction & odds | UFC 299 1

This weekend’s UFC 299 will see Sean O’Malley and Marlon Vera face off in a thrilling rematch for the bantamweight title in Miami, Florida.

The event, headlined by this championship grudge match, also hosts a bunch of other exciting fights including Dustin Poirier vs. Benoit Saint-Denis, Kevin Holland vs. Michael “Venom” Page, and more.

As always, our team is here to bring you our predictions not just for this fight but for every other UFC 299 fight as well. Join us as we break down the fighters’ paths to victory, strengths, weaknesses, and potential strategies.

Check out all of our UFC 299 predictions below:

Betting Odds

Sean O’Malley will enter the cage this weekend as a heavy betting favorite at odds of -270 up against Marlon Vera who can be found at +215.

  • Sean O’Malley: -270 (BetUS)
  • Marlon Vera: +215 (BetUS)

Fight Predictions

Braeden Arbour

Sean O’Malley vs. Marlon “Chito” Vera is as hard a fight to predict as any. The MMA community is largely divided both on who is going to win but also on what approaches either fighter should and could take.

Sean O’Malley is the longer fighter, he feints extremely well and he feints from everywhere. It’s not uncommon for fighters to feint as if to jab, or step fake, but O’Malley gauges reactions by faking from every weapon he has. In doing so, opponents are often hesitant enough to break even that first line in his range and find themselves stuck on the end of his shots.

Using his feints and his footwork, O’Malley is better than most at setting everything up. In this way, although he doesn’t necessarily out-condition guys, his earlier combinations pay dividends when he can exploit his opponents’ reads later in the fight. He is a great counterstriker, very good at coming up the middle with his shots, has a wide range of weapons, and has a higher output than Vera.

There are some weaknesses, or potential weaknesses, in his game, however. O’Malley, despite being the champion, has worked his way to the title without fighting in the main events, against the amount of ranked fighters that one would expect. Outside of debut, he has exclusively fought on UFC numbered events, meaning he has been scheduled for five rounds just once in the UFC and finished the fight in the second. Marlon Vera has gone into the championship rounds thrice.

Although it’s too soon to say O’Malley does not have the gas tank to go a hard 25, it’s an unknown factor, especially when we saw body language implying fatigue in the Petr Yan three-round event. O’Malley also puts on a ferocious pace at times, utilizing a lot of movement and kicks, so the management of his energy may be different than usual, knowing Vera is a hard opponent to get out of there.

Another thing to watch out for is O’Malley’s susceptibility to low kicks. He typically deals with them well technically, but both in the first Vera fight and earlier in his career against Andre Soukhamthath, he had to deal with major leg injuries.

On top of this, in his no-contest bout with Pedro Munhoz, it was the low kicks of Munhoz that arguably won him the first round against O’Malley. Although O’Malley never seemed very phased, Munhoz did get to the leg with relative consistency. Vera knowing that O’Malley is there to be kicked, and with the confidence of finishing him starting with the leg in their first fight is important.

While Vera may want to attack often with low kicks, he also needs to be the one closing that distance down. O’Malley is a bit longer and a bit taller and Vera’s biggest asset is his ability to be the forward moving party. He is more comfortable in the pocket, some say too comfortable, but he will be looking to finish the fight and to do so he needs to work with his boxing.

Vera is also the better submission artist, with a large portion of his victories coming by tap-out. If O’Malley clips Vera and Vera finds himself on his back, he is excellent from guard, he constantly looks to attack submissions, as well as strike off of his back to set those submissions up especially with his elbows.

In terms of weaknesses, Vera is very comfortable giving up rounds, believing he will get a finish sooner or later. He is also a slow starter, much more flat-footed and linear in his movement than O’Malley, and absorbs more strikes per minute. The latter is because Vera is both durable and more powerful than most opponents, even when outstruck he more than not wears less damage than his opponents after exchanges, electing to land one or two big strikes even if he is taking a few more less effective ones. He does not extend his combos for this reason though, he will throw one, two maybe three strikes at a time and fully sit down on them, but rarely do we see longer flurries from Chito.

Many have speculated as to whom it benefits to get at it quickly or draw the fight out. Both men are finishers, but both men are also particularly difficult to finish. O’Malley is yet to see a fifth round, however knowing Vera’s disregard for the scorecards, the finishing danger he carries and being a slow starter, O’Malley should have some confidence he can win rounds on Vera cleanly. That only matters if he drags the fight the distance, but there’s a good argument that O’Malley should be favored in a decision if it gets there.

On the other hand, Vera has the experience in deeper water, his flatter footwork, superior grappling and belief in his power late may lead him to be overly patient and look for a late finish once O’Malley is wearing the last three or four rounds. Of course, with the amount of finishing ability both these men have it could just as likely end in the first, or second just as in the first time they fought.

I think that over five rounds both guys have a very strong chance at finishing the fight in different areas. I do not see Vera taking O’Malley down but should a knockdown or scramble materialize, Vera has a very good ground game that’s not to be underestimated and submission is on the table.

He also has strong striking, especially looking at the legs, and his in pocket boxing and elbows should they clinch or get pressed up the cage. O’Malley can knock anyone out from range with his slick kicking game and his sniper like boxing.

What pushes me towards the champion in this one is if the fight does end up being at a slower pace, and there is a lot of reason to expect this, the smaller moments between the big opportunities are where O’Malley is going to win out the small victories.

I see him outworking Vera, touching him up a tad more, and making Vera miss by using angles, leaving me to believe that if the fight does go to the scorecards, it will go to O’Malley.

Pick: Sean O’Malley to win (+215 at BetUS)

Michael Pounders

The Suga Show is coming to Miami as “Suga” Sean O’Malley, the bantamweight champion, looks to avenge his one and only loss against Marlon “Chito” Vera.

O’Malley’s rise to championship gold was not without contention. Suga lost via TKO/injury to Vera in 2020, then had a fight end via No Contest to Pedro Munhoz in 2022, then he controversially beat Petr Yan via split decision also in 2022 and finally knocked Sterling out to win the gold in 2023. O’Malley still claims he is undefeated and that his TKO loss to Vera should have been an injury stoppage following a brutal series of leg kicks from Vera.

Since then, O’Malley has shown clear and dedicated improvements to his calf kick defense. Suga has always been a supremely talented and dynamic striker with the unique ability to combine timing, precision, and power at the highest level. But, since his calf kick knockout loss, O’Malley has added improved elements of stance switching and movement to his game. Suga has always been effortlessly fluid in the cage with arguably the best boxing in the UFC.

So, he’s always showcased impressive movement and stance-switching. However, since 2020, Suga seems to have leveled up his movement, stance switching, and defense to be not only fluid but strategic. Now, even if his leg is kicked, O’Malley seems to wear the damage better, alternate stances more effectively to change targets, and even check or evade the calf kick at times. O’Malley has addressed and corrected what was once seen as his primary weakness.

Additionally, most fighters are incapable of standing with the champ. He is simply too fast, too precise, too dynamic, and too gifted of a striker for fighters to out-box. Instead, many fighters have worked in a wrestling and grappling game to take away O’Malley’s clear advantage on the feet.

However, like with the calf kick defense, Suga has clearly improved as a defensive grappler. O’Malley stuffed 7 of 13 takedown attempts from Yan and even threatened with his own submissions when in a scramble. It’s a far cry from a black belt; but, again, the champ is clearly improving. Given the unparalleled striking ability- volume, speed, precision, power, length, variety, and combination- and the improved calf kick and grappling defense, it’s possible we still haven’t seen the best version of the bantamweight champion.

Marlon “Chito” Vera has a unique style all to his own. He is patient, boarding on disinterested, on the feet for several minutes of the early rounds in a fight. Vera keeps a high guard and stands in a tall Muay Thai stance as he throws few shots, often kicks, while making his opponent frustrated that they can’t successfully land through his guard. Then, seemingly at random but likely when he feels an opening, Vera will lower his guard and unload otherworldly power for the bantamweight division.

Often, Vera will catch a frustrated opponent, over-extending as they try to navigate his defensive shell, with a vulnerable and exposed chin. In these moments, Vera turns from guarded and passive to offensive and deadly. Like the terminator, Vera can transition from rest to explosion in an instant.

When he explodes, Vera’s combination of timing and power deals so much damage that he can win a round with half of the volume of his opponent- see Vera vs Font and Vera vs Cruz. The downside to Vera’s shell and explode strategy is that he can start slowly and lose rounds if he is unable to damage his opponent enough when he does let loose.

I would not fault anyone for taking Vera nearly +200. I expect this fight to go the distance, which, given the recent state of judging should be enough reason to take the underdog. Additionally, I expect this fight to be close, with both men finding success in their respective strategies.

I, however, am taking O’Malley to win by decision here for two key reasons. First, I think this fight will look similar to Vera vs. Font, where the longer, faster, and more volume-focused boxer has success for most of each round.

Unlike that fight, though, and my second reason for taking O’Malley, is that I don’t think Vera will be able to land the necessary damage to overcome O’Malley’s volume. Suga’s movement, defensive awareness, and footwork should keep him safe enough at range where Vera isn’t able to damage him enough to sway the judges.

I think O’Malley will unload a massive amount of volume over the course of 25 minutes, and while Vera seems inhumanly durable, he will crack Vera’s defense enough while staying away from his offense.

Best Bet: O’Malley to win by decision (+105 at BetUS)

Check out all of our UFC 299 predictions below:

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