UFC bantamweight ‘Sugar’ Sean O’Malley (15-1) has been dominant for the majority of his career in the organization, but has yet to break into the top 10 in his quest to surpass the likes of Conor McGregor.
O’Malley wants to get to the point where he’s earning $1m per fight, and he definitely has a large enough social media following to draw more eyes to the sport. However, at the current time of writing, he hasn’t beaten anyone in the top 15. He still has a way to go.
Here’s a rundown of the best Sugar’ Sean O’Malley rookie cards to collect, including some of the best items from his debut year in the UFC.
The Best Sean O’Malley Rookie Cards
O’Malley RCs were produced in 2018, while Topps still had the exclusive license to print UFC cards. That means we’ll be focusing on two sets.
4. 2018 Topps UFC Museum Sean O’Malley RC #39 (eBay)
The 2018 Topps UFC Museum Collection features an O’Malley RC in the 50-card base set.
The numbered parallels have proven to be reasonably popular, and they’re more affordable than other O’Malley cards found in the set due to the lack of an auto. (They change with the color of the frame found on the inside borderline.)
It features an action shot of O’Malley in the octagon, during his win in the promotion over Andre Soukhamthath at UFC 222. (They also received bonuses for Fight of the Night.)
- Parallels: Copper #99, Gold #/75, Sapphire #/25, Ruby #/8, Emerald 1/1
3. 2018 Topps UFC Museum Sean O’Malley RC #SSAR-SOM (eBay)
Within the same 2018 Topps UFC Museum Collection, you’ll find a variety of signed O’Malley relics and patches. One such example is the Signature Swatch Single Relic Autographs RC seen above, while he also has a Dual Relic auto within the set.
(However, they’re not the most popular options, maybe due to the fact that the relic doesn’t come from a specific bout or event.)
It’s still a decent cheaper option if you’re looking for signed O’Malley RCs.
- Parallels: Gold #/25, Ruby #/8, Emerald 1/1
2. 2018 Topps UFC Chrome Sean O’Malley RC #84 (eBay)
A collection which borrows from the flagship baseball set in terms of design, 2018 Topps UFC Chrome features a great landscape action shot of O’Malley in his TUF final win over Terrion Ware.
It also counts as his promotional debut, so it can be seen as a true RC of sorts. The chromium finish is always prone to damage, while Refractor parallels are where the real money is.
- Refractor Parallels: Base Refractor (1:3 packs), X-Fractor (1:24 packs), Diamond (Hot Boxes), Green #/99, Blue Wave #/75, Gold #/50, Orange #/25, Black #/10, Red #/5, SuperFractor 1/1, Printing Plates 1/1
1. 2018 Topps UFC Chrome Sean O’Malley RC #FA-SOM (eBay)
Sticking with the 2018 Topps UFC Chrome set, there’s a signed version of the card seen above, with a logo to note that it’s his first autograph. Rookie autos tend to be some of the better investment options, especially when looking at modern athletes who appear in multiple sets.
If you think that ‘Sugar Sean’ has what it takes, it has to be seen as his best rookie card overall.
- Refractor Parallels: OctoFractor (Hot Boxes), Green #/99, Blue Wave #/75, Gold #/50, Orange #/25, Black #/10, Red #/5, SuperFractor 1/1
Sean O’Malley Rookie Cards: Buyers Guide
What do we think of the current state of the market for Sean O’Malley RCs?
The Best Cheap Sean O’Malley Rookie Cards
The unsigned 2018 Topps UFC Chrome RC can be found for under $50, although you’ll be looking at ungraded versions. There’s also a mat relic and a few cards from the Museum Collection which aren’t especially expensive compared to stars like Khabib or Jon Jones.
The Best Sean O’Malley Rookie Card Investment
As you may have guessed, the signed 2018 Topps UFC Chrome RC is the clear winner here, as the addition of O’Malley’s auto is enough to make it stand out from the crowd. 2021 Panini cards have also proven to be popular, and tend to be worth more than his 2018 Topps UFC Museum Collection RCs.
Sean O’Malley Rookie Cards: Buying/Selling Advice
O’Malley has what it takes to be a star, but the bantamweight top ten is packed with killers. We’ll soon see if he has what it takes to mount a challenge for the belt.
He has a huge following on social media, and believes fighters should be better compensated for actively promoting themselves. Few do it better than Sugar Sean, which is one of the reasons why his rookie cards are reasonably valuable.
We’re going to do our best to grab a copy or two, and keep one eye on his progression through the UFC rankings. With two Fight of the Night honors and four Performance of the Night bonuses in his first eight fights, it’s going to be interesting either way.