Sean O’Connell earned the biggest payday of his career on New Year’s Eve when he defeated Vinny Magalhaes for the 2018 light heavyweight title at PFL 11. Following the fight, which earned him a million-dollar payout, “The Real OC” stated that he was retiring from fighting.
On New Year’s day, O’Connell released a statement confirming that he would no longer be competing inside the cage.
“I am home again in Salt Lake City and feeling happy and grateful. I feel blessed to have enjoyed a fulfilling career as a pro fighter,” he wrote. “Thank you to EVERYONE who has EVER been part of this with me. Friends, family, coaches, training partners, promoters, opponents, fans, sponsors, and anybody else who gave even a tiny bit of themselves to my years of pretending I belong as a pro athlete. I cannot thank you all properly. I wish I could.
“I hope to stay in the MMA world as a broadcaster, but my fighting days are done. Walking away on a high note is bittersweet. But I need to preserve what is left of my brain for my loved ones. God is great, the future is bright, and I am so grateful. Happy New Year everyone! Love you all.”
— Sean O'Connell (@realOCsports) January 2, 2019
O’Connell made his professional fighting debut in April 2007 competing in regional shows in Utah. In 2014, O’Connell made his UFC debut against Ryan Jimmo. He lost via TKO. He fought seven times inside the octagon before being released in 2016.
He signed with Professional Fighters League and debuted with the organization in June with a win over Ronny Markes. The 35-year-old advanced to the PFL playoffs and capped off his career with three consecutive victories including the third-round stoppage of Magalhaes for the 205-pound title. He vacated the belt following the fight.