At UFC 222, Andre Soukhamthath faced off against the highly regarded Sean O'Malley in a bantamweight bout. O’Malley is seen as a real prospect at 135 pounds after he was discovered on Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series last July and so far the 23-year old has shown a lot of promise in his two victories inside the Octagon.
O’Malley again displayed slick footwork and striking to outpoint his opponent Soukhamthath. However, a focal point of the fight happened at the start of the third round when O’Malley threw a seemingly innocuous head kick, which injured the rising star’s leg, forcing him to hop around the Octagon. At that point the fight was there for the taking and where it all went wrong for Soukhamthath.
Instead of making O’Malley stand up on his injured leg and force him into a striking match on one leg, Soukhamthath surprisingly decided to take O’Malley down which confused and frustrated most people -- including his own coaching staff -- who were screaming at him to stand up and fight.
Joe Rogan was bemused at the time, questioning the decision to wrestle and even UFC President Dana White mentioned the decision at the post-fight press conference.
Southkamthath talked with ESPN about his thought process during the fight and the unwavering criticism he’s faced as a result including being labelled as the dumbest fighter in UFC history.
“I’m getting trolled right now by so many people,” Soukamthath says. “They are calling me the dumbest fighter in MMA. The dumbest fighter in UFC history. Even my friend Rashad [Evans]. Everyone is wondering why I decided to wrestle, and I’m wondering the same thing.
“After he rocked me, I still stayed in the fight, but I was kind of dizzy and dazed afterwards,” Soukhamthath says. “That shot really threw me off the rest of the game plan in the fight. I really wasn’t there.
”I think I was just fighting with instincts. I definitely regret it, because I’m a striker first and a wrestler second. If I would have just done my thing out there, I easily would have won the fight.”
O’Malley was already well ahead on the scoreboard before the leg injury and Soukhamthath’s only realistic chance to win the fight was to finish him. The fight ended via a unanimous decision victory for O’Malley, who had to conduct his post-fight interview with Rogan on his back due to the injury.
At the end of the day, Soukhamthath acknowledged what he did wrong and won’t let the negative comments keep him down.
“I know what I did wrong. I realize what I did. I’m going to capitalize on my mistakes and learn from this. I’m not going to let opinions of others get in the way of my life. I’ve been through this before, and I’m not going to let it bring me down.”