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Sean O’Malley to make his professional MMA debut on Friday

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“Sugar” Sean O’Malley of Helena will start etching his name into professional MMA lore on Friday when he goes toe-to-toe with his first pro opponent, Josh Reyes of Washington state.

"Sugar" Sean O'Malley lands a punch to the face of Brandon Caldwell at ICF 16.
“Sugar” Sean O’Malley lands a punch to the face of Brandon Caldwell at ICF 16.

The fight goes down at 221 Industries’ ICF 17 at the Montana Expo Hall in Great Falls. Action starts at 7 p.m., with doors opening at 6.

O’Malley said when he made the decision to go pro after going 12-2 as an amateur, he knew there was no chance he’d ever sign with anyone but 221 Industries.

“I wouldn’t want to make (my pro debut) anywhere else,” he said. “I love the fans (in Great Falls.)”

Joining O’Malley in his corner will be the legendary MMA coach John Crouch.

According to his official online bio, Crouch, “discovered Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in 1993 when his Tae Kwon Do instructor, Phil Spence, began training in the law enforcement program at the Gracie Academy. Phil brought back the techniques he was shown at the Academy and John was hooked. He spent a summer in LA training with the Gracies morning and night. He decided this was the thing he wanted to do with his life and applied for the instructor’s program at the Gracie Academy.”

He’s now with the MMA Lab in Glendale, Ariz., where he’s been since 2006.

Cory Smith, CEO of 221 Industries, said he views O’Malley as a once-in-a-lifetime fighter with a huge chance to make waves in the professional ranks.

“Sean is a prodigy … every time he gets in the cage, his fans just get crazy waiting to see what he does next,” Smith said.

As for his opponent, Smith said Reyes will not be a walk in the park by any stretch of the imagination.

“Josh is ex-military and a battle tested fighter,” Smith said. “He is coming into Montana with every intention of beating Sean convincingly.”

O’Malley said there’s no way he sees himself going down to Reyes (4-1 as a pro) on Friday, however.

” I don’t really plan on fighting with a certain style, I’m just going to go in and do what I do,” he said. “But, there is absolutely a 0 percent chance that I lose.”

O’Malley also took the opportunity to thank Smith, 221 Industries, and all of his sponsors for believing in him and giving him the chance to train at the famed MMA Lab alongside fighters such as Tim Welch, Benson “Smooth” Henderson and Joe Riggs.

“221 has helped me so much, without them there is no way I would be living down here,” O”Malley said.

In other action at ICF 17, O’Malley’s former Team Proven Ground teammate Dylin Drivdahl will face undefeated Theron Martin in a match for the ICF 135-pound amateur title.

Drivdahl, a Helena phenom in his own right, has just one loss, — a unanimous decision to Martin a month ago.

“(The last match between these two) was a fight-of-the-year kind of fight,” Smith said. “They both jump around that cage throwing combos and crazy kinds of stuff you only see on TV.”

Then, in the second title match-up, Great Falls native Ryan “The Kracken” McCracken takes on Johnson Nasona for the 155lb-pound belt.

“Both these guys are ICF vets and this one could also be a fight of the year nomination,” Smith said.

Other fighters on the card include Chad Davidson of Great Falls making his MMA debut, Andy Davis and Ryan Hill.

VIP Tables are already sold out for this event, and the remaining tickets are expected to go fast. General admission tickets are $20 and are available at Alias, Smith & Jones stores in Helena and Great Falls, Cody’s Cars, the Sting Sports Bar, Big Sky Harley Davidson and the Four Seasons Arena Box office.

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