SEAN O'MALLEY sent a huge message to the rest of the bantamweight division with a stunning victory over fellow prospect Raulian Paiva.
The Dana White's Contenders Series graduates collided early on Sunday morning on a stacked UFC 269 pay-per-view card in Las Vegas, which they kicked off.
And fan favourite O'Malley staked his claim for a spot in the bantamweight top-15 come Tuesday with an emphatic first-round stoppage of the Brazilian.
The 27-year-old went into the contest hellbent on stealing the show, saying: "I feel like I did steal the show, I plan on stealing the show again."
And did the Minnesota mauler well and truly delivered on his promise.
After his latest highlight-reel stoppage, O'Malley said: "I think he's one of the toughest guys I've ever fought.
"But when I land those shots, I'm gonna take you out."
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O’Malley happily operated on the outside of the octagon in the early stages of the stanza, looking to utilise his reach advantages.
BJJ whiz Paiva attempted to ground the fight early but saw his effort stuffed.
O'Malley made good use of oblique kicks to establish his range, which he then found with pin-point jabs.
An accidental groin strike from Suga briefly halted proceedings, although Paiva was not too debilitated by the strike.
After the restart, O'Malley continued to dance around his Brazilian foe and repeatedly tagged him as he attempted to close the distance.
Chants of 'Sean O'Malley' saw the slick striker fall further into his groove, and he responded by landing a beautiful straight right hand following a picture-perfect jab.
A few moments later, O'Malley sent the arena into raptures when he dropped Paiva with a beautiful right hand.
The fan favourite smelled blood and unloaded shot after shot on the hurt Paiva, who somehow made it back to his feet.
But he was soon back on the canvas after being caught by a flurry of shots that sent the T-Mobile Arena into pandemonium.
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