On Saturday night, former bantamweight champion Petr Yan returns to the Octagon looking for a big win after a closely-contested loss to reigning champion Aljamain Sterling in April.
Yan will face fan-favorite ‘Sugar’ Sean O’Malley in one of the evening’s featured bouts. The No. 1 ranked Yan will put his ranking on the line against the No. 13 ranked O’Malley in what will be the biggest test yet for ‘Sugar’ who is currently riding a three-fight win streak. Saturday’s contest could very well be a title eliminator as Yan hopes to fight his way into another title opportunity against the winner of Aljamain Sterling vs. TJ Dillashaw. For O’Malley, a victory would catapult him to the top of the rankings making a title fight the only logical next step.
Appearing on ‘The MMA Hour‘ with Ariel Helwani, ‘No Mercy’ spoke to the esteemed MMA journalist to talk about his upcoming clash with O’Malley and what could come next. While Yan is by no means looking past ‘Sugar’ this weekend, the No. 1 contender believes that a win will earn him another world title opportunity.
“A win [on] Saturday should guarantee me the next title shot. And if TJ’s gonna win, it’s gonna be a very big fight for all the MMA fans. If Sterling wins, it’s gonna be a trilogy.”
Asked who he believes will win the bantamweight showdown at UFC 280, Yan was uncertain, believing it could go either way.
“To be honest, I don’t know. It’s a 50/50 fight. It depends on who’s gonna dictate where the fight will go.”
As far as who Yan would like to face, ‘No Mercy’ has no preference on the matter. The only goal is to get the bantamweight title back around his waist.
“For me, my goal [is] only title fight. Who the world champion is, I don’t care. I want to smash him.”
— 𝐒𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐩𝐢𝐜 🇵🇸 (@stiopic_) October 17, 2022
Petr Yan Addresses Rumors of Bout Between Himself and ‘Chito’ Vera
Originally, Petr Yan was rumored to face rising contender Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera. That contest never came to fruition and Vera ended up stepping into the Octagon with two-time bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz. Asked why the bout never occurred, ‘No Mercy’ placed the blame squarely on Vera who wasn’t willing to wait a few extra weeks for the bout.
“Yes, there were talks about fighting ‘Chito’ Vera. I accepted the fight with him in September, but he wanted to fight in August and he couldn’t wait a few weeks to fight me so he didn’t put his action where his words were. If he really wanted to fight me, he would have waited for me because I’m the No. 1 contender in the world.”
Vera went on to deliver a highlight reel knockout, catching ‘The Dominator’ with a beautifully timed head-kick at 2:17 of the fourth round.