- Sean O’Malley talked about title shot and becoming a UFC champion after beating Petr Yan
- “Sugar” said the win over Yan should silence his critics
Fans in attendance were delighted to have witnessed top bantamweight contenders Petr Yan and Sean O’Malley go toe-to-toe for three full rounds at UFC 280. In the end, it was “Sugar” who earned the split decision win and he’s now confident that he has taken a step closer to becoming a UFC champion.
A champion in the making
Beating the division’s No. 1 contender obviously puts O’Malley in front of the line against reigning champion Aljamain Sterling. When asked about how he sees what lies ahead of him, “Sugar” said he’d like to recover first but soon, he’ll be the new bantamweight champion.
“It’s so hard. Like Dana [White] says, ‘its hard to make fights that night, right after, or the day of…[but] It’s inevitable,” O’Malley said of possibly fighting for the title at the UFC 280 post-fight news conference. “I turn 28 and I’m going to be in this sport for long time. People want me to be champ, so it’s going to happen sooner than later.”
Shutting doubters up
The win over Yan was O’Malley’s first decision win since 2018. Barring the No Contest against Pedro Munhoz at UFC 276 and the TKO loss to Marlon Vera at UFC 252, “Sugar” finished all of his last five opponents. This has got some fans doubting his durability but O’Malley is certain his performance against Yan answered it.
“I’m sure there’s still people out there [doubting me] but I think I answered [their questions about my durability]…kick his [Yan’s] legs was the first one,” O’Malley stated. “Now it’s ‘You can’t just kick his legs and take him down.’ Petr kicked my legs and took me down, and still (I) won. So yeah, I’m answering questions little by little.”
Sean felt the pain
After three rounds, Yan landed 97 total strikes on O’Malley. Despite winning the Fight of the Night, the 28-year-old stressed that it wasn’t the kind of fights he wanted.
“I don’t want to get hit ever,” O’Malley admitted. “It’s not healthy. It’s not good to get punched on the head. It’s not good for you to have headaches. Ideally, I go in there and not get hit. But I think it makes it even sweeter, the story – I really had to show my heart…I got to go deep. I had to go somewhere mentally and physically I’ve never been before, and that’s what happens when you fight the best guys in the world.”
O’Malley is expected to break into the top 5 in the bantamweight division. While a title shot is imminent, it’s still up to the UFC to decide if “Sugar” has already become the rightful contender.