Those who have been waiting to see Sean O’Malley take a major step up in competition appear to be just months away from getting their wish. O’Malley announced on ESPN’s “DC and RC” that he is fighting former bantamweight champion Petr Yan at UFC 280.
“I’m getting a fight that I wanted and the fight that people want,” O’Malley said. “I’m fighting Petr Yan on Oct. 22 in Abu Dhabi. I think this is … I’m so excited. I can’t believe that this is real and it’s happening.”
The fight does not appear to be a done deal quite yet as Yan’s manager, Danny Rubenstein, appeared on Ariel Helwani’s “MMA Hour” saying the fight was not yet officially signed but that verbal agreements were in place.
O’Malley is coming off a disappointing result in his most recent outing, seeing his UFC 276 bout with Pedro Munhoz end in a no contest after O’Malley landed an accidental eye poke that left Munhoz unable to continue. Prior to that bout, O’Malley had won three straight fights, all by stoppage, after a disappointing TKO loss to Marlon Vera in a fight where O’Malley suffered a leg injury leading to the finish.
While he has become one of the UFC’s brightest young stars, many have been waiting to see O’Malley step into the Octagon with true division contenders. That is certainly the case with Yan, a fighter who had ripped through the 135-pound division before winning the then-vacant title in a bout with Jose Aldo.
Yan lost the belt in his first defense, landing a blatantly illegal knee on Aljamain Sterling that led to Yan being disqualified. After an impressive showing in defeating Cory Sandhagen to win the interim bantamweight title, Yan rematched Sterling, this time losing a narrow split decision.
The winner of O’Malley vs. Yan is likely getting a title shot at some point in the next year and will certainly hold one of the top spots in the UFC’s official rankings.