Sean O’Malley Coach Tim Welch ‘Thought it Was Clear’ That ‘Sugar’ Earned Decision Over Petr Yan at UFC 280

Speaking to ESPN's Brett Okamoto, Tim Welch believes Sean O'Malley held a clear advantage on the feet and that's why judges scored the decision in favor of his fighter at UFC 280

Sean O'Malley
Courtesy of ESPN MMA on YouTube and @sugarsean on Instagram

At UFC 280, Sean O’Malley earned the biggest win of his career, besting No. 1 ranked bantamweight Petr Yan, though it didn’t come without a bit of controversy.

O’Malley stepped into the Octagon with the former bantamweight titleholder at UFC 280 on Saturday. When it was all said and done, he walked out with Yan’s No. 1 contender status, scoring a closely contested split decision victory. Discussing the much-debated victory was Sean O’Malley’s coach and longtime friend, Tim Welch, who joined ESPN’s Brett Okamoto to share his thoughts on the questionable decision that favored the colorful fan favorite. 

“I don’t know how they score those takedowns,” said Welch. “Some people look at it as the guy on top’s always winning, but Petr was fighting off a lot of submissions. He didn’t do a lot of damage on the ground and Sean did piece him up so, I was just like, ‘Whatever.’ It’s gonna go either way. However these judges looked at it, it’s gonna go that way.”

Throughout the contest, Petr Yan landed six takedowns and was credited with a total control time of 5:44, more than a full round. Eliminating the takedowns from the equation, Welch believes that Sean O’Malley clearly won the striking battle.

“I thought it was clear. Petr’s the stand-up guy. He’s the one that wants to stand up. He’s the best. He’s the master of boxing and he wasn’t wanting to stand with Sean so I think that says right there he was winning in stand-up.”

Petr Yan actually held the advantage in total strikes, landing 97 to O’Malley’s 91. However, significant strikes are where O’Malley jumped off the page, landing 84 significant strikes compared to Yan’s 58. The discrepancy in the significant strikes came in the third round where O’Malley held a decided advantage landing 40 to Yan’s 15. The prior two rounds were much closer with only four significant strikes separating them in the first round and three in the third. 

Petr Yan landed more total strikes in both the first and second rounds on top of scoring four of his six total takedowns in the first 10 minutes.

Is a UFC Title Opportunity Next for Sean O’Malley

With his win over Petr Yan at UFC 280, Sean O’Malley has a No. 1 next to his name, signifying he is the next man in line for a shot at Aljamain Sterling‘s bantamweight championship. Discussing if a title opportunity is indeed next, Welch was unable to confirm one way or another. 

“Not yet. We’re just gonna… We’ve done it a lot of the time, but kind of put the trust in the UFC. The UFC knows what they’re doing. If the title’s next, then it’s next. There’s a lot of improving Sean has to do. Like, he’s not even close to as good as he can be. He’s such an athletic kid and he’s still growing. He could be very very dangerous on the ground. So if it’s Aljo next, then it is and we’ll prepare for that. We’ll see what the UFC says.”

Whether or not a title fight is next for O’Malley, Welch believes that the win over Petr Yan will move ‘Sugar’ into the world of five-round fights going forward.

“You fight in the top five guys, if you get a three-round fight, great, but it’s probably going to be five-round fights and we’ve known that for a while. Even for the last couple fights, we’ve been trying to kind of prepare for five rounds after he’s done sparring. Doing more rounds on the mitts and more rounds on the bags and not be done. We know the five-round fights are coming and for a lot of people… For most people, you see it. When they know it’s a five-round fight, the pace changes. It’s not a sprint from beginning to end, but [we’re] definitely preparing for five-rounders.”

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