When Louis Smolka dropped out of his upcoming fight with Sean O’Malley at UFC 264 next weekend, it didn’t seem like the UFC would have to search hard for a replacement, with names like Merab Dvalishvili, Marlon Vera and Ricky Simon all asking for the fight. However, the UFC had other ideas.
UFC 264 will now see Sean O’Malley face off with unknown Kris Moutinho in what is a huge letdown – but this isn’t the first time the UFC has sourced a disappointing replacement.
Sure, it’s not always possible for the UFC to throw together a strong fight on late notice, but it definitely feels like the promotion could do better at times.
With this in mind, here are five of the most underwhelming late-notice fighters in UFC history.
#5 Kris Moutinho vs. Sean O’Malley – UFC 264
Let's start with the most recent late replacement on our list. When Louis Smolka pulled out of his fight with Sean O'Malley at UFC 264, it felt like numerous UFC fighters saw a potential opportunity.
O'Malley has a big reputation right now and is expected to become a major star in the future for the UFC – but he's also arguably not quite as good as he believes he is, and as Marlon Vera showed when they fought in 2020, he's beatable.
And given that UFC 264 is likely to be one of the biggest UFC events of all time and may well break the promotion's pay-per-view buy rate record, a chance to fight on the card would be too good to pass up for most fighters.
That meant that the likes of Merab Dvalishvili, Ricky Simon, Ray Borg and Brian Kelleher all threw their names into the hat as possible opponents for the 'Sugar Show.'
To be quite honest, any of those fighters would’ve been a good choice. Dvalishvili would even have been an upgrade on Smolka.
And that makes the promotion's choice of Kris Moutinho – a UFC debutant with an unimpressive record of 9-4 – even more baffling.
Perhaps the only notable thing about Moutinho is the fact that physically, he almost resembles O’Malley – meaning the fight may look like one of the “mirror matches” on an old Mortal Kombat video game.
But either way, it’s hard not to be disappointed with the UFC’s choice here, particularly as the fight will likely do nothing for O’Malley’s burgeoning reputation either.