LOCAL ATHLETES

Two Utah MMA Fighters Ready For $1 Million Fights

Dec 28, 2018, 5:36 PM | Updated: Jan 5, 2019, 3:33 pm
(Ryan Loco/PFL)...
(Ryan Loco/PFL)
(Ryan Loco/PFL)

NEW YORK CITY, N.Y. – Two local Mixed Martial Artists from the state of Utah will take center stage in the octagon for a chance at $1 million dollars and to be crowned champion of their respective weight class in the Professional Fighters League.

The fight card will take place at Madison Square Garden on New Year’s Eve.

Provo native Steven Siler will face Lance Palmer for the Featherweight Championship while Salt Lake City native Sean O’Connell will face Vinny Magalhaes for the Light Heavyweight Championship.

Siler Ready For Biggest Career Fight

The MMA veteran joins the PFL after a long career in the combat sport. He began his MMA career in 2005 with the Utah organization “Ultimate Combat Experience” and fought mostly in the state of Utah until 2011 when he appeared on the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s television show “The Ultimate Fighter.”

He would have a nine-fight career in the UFC while posting a 5-4 record before he was released by the promotion.

After multiple stints with different organizations, Siler joined the PFL roster when the league was announced.

(Nick Karp/PFL)

He will look for revenge when he faces Palmer for the second time in 13 months. Palmer beat Siler in their previous matchup on “PFL: Fight Night” via unanimous decision in November 2017.

Siler was asked about what would be different from their last bout to this one.

“We have history. But we are both in different camps now, we have taken different steps to get here,” Siler said at the PFL press conference. “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think anything would be different.”


Palmer was asked the same question.

“We know that Steven is tough. It is definitely going to be a different fight than a year ago,” Palmer said. “We are both completely different fighters and a lot better than before.”

Siler won his first fight of the regular season with a first round submission win over Magomed Idrisov and another submission finish in the first round in his second regular season fight against Alexandre Almeida.

He earned the No. 1-seed in the featherweight division and had a majority draw against Nazareno in the quarterfinals of the Playoffs but moved on with the judges giving him the better score in the first round. Siler secured a berth in the championship with a win over Almeida again but the fight was given to Siler after Almeida was disqualified for an illegal upkick.

The ‘Real OC’ Ready For Upset Win

O’Connell has had a great 2018 year both professionally and personally. He married his wife in June in Utah, he became a broadcaster for the PFL when they began the regular season and is fighting for $1 million and the Light Heavyweight belt.

“It’s been a really incredible year. It’s been the best year of my life both personally and professionally,” O’Connell said at the press conference. “The broadcasting opportunities that the PFL gave me has been huge for me.”

The Jordan High School graduate beat Ronny Markes in his first regular season fight to clinch a playoff berth before losing his second bout to Bozigit Ataev.

“I had a successful opening bout in Chicago but the next bout against Bozigit (Ataev) didn’t go my way,” O’Connell added.

O’Connell appeared to be off the radar by many when the playoffs came up after the disappointing loss.

“Come playoff time, everyone forgot that I was a decent fighter. Everyone was counting me out,” he added.

(Nick Karp/PFL)

He is the No. 6-seed in the Light Heavyweight division while his opponent Vinny Magalhaes won all four of his PFL bouts to earn the No. 1-seed by finishing all of his opponents in the first round and spent just 6:29 in the octagon over those four fights.

“I think in this case in the title bout against Vinny (Magalhaes) he is probably the biggest favorite on the card,” O’Connell said.

O’Connell wants to finish 2018 on the right foot with a win over Magalhaes.

“It is absolutely vital to put on a good performance and get this win to cap off a great year,” he added.


Weigh-In Ideas

Something that O’Connell is known for since he joined the UFC in 2014 was the things he does to and with his opponent when they stare each other down after weighing in the day before their fight.

When asked at the PFL press conference, O’Connell didn’t give away any secrets.

“I can’t share that with you. We have a couple of ideas that I need to narrow down. There is always moving parts to this and there is always props,” O’Connell said. “We will have some fun on Sunday (weigh-ins) and even more fun on Monday (fight night).”

How To Watch

The PFL Finals will take place on New Year’s Eve at Madison Square Garden in New York City and the card will begin at 5 p.m. on NBCSN.  They will have six weight classes that will fight for $1 million, with O’Connell and Siler competing in two of those bouts. Visit pflmma.com for more information.

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Two Utah MMA Fighters Ready For $1 Million Fights