When Petr Yan vs. Sean O’Malley was announced for UFC 280, many fans were shocked. O’Malley had just fought to a No Contest against No. 9 ranked Pedro Munhoz, and now he was jumping up to fight the No. 1 ranked bantamweight in the division. It seemed like a big step up.
Even Dana White admitted he was unsure about the match-up at first. Following the first episode of the new Contender Series season, White told the press:
“[UFC matchmaker] Sean Shelby wanted that fight. I said, ‘Are you out of your mind? You don’t make that fight now … He ended up selling me on it. And more importantly, both guys wanted it. And even more important than that, when we announced it, everybody went crazy and loves it. And even more important than that, it should be a f***ing really good fight.”
Watch Dana White discuss the Yan vs. O’Malley fight below:
Petr Yan and Sean O’Malley are set to fight on October 22 in Abu Dhabi. It’s a fight that’s almost guaranteed to generate fireworks in the cage, but don’t expect Petr Yan to engage in many back-and-forths with ‘Sugar’ leading up to the fight.
In a new video interview released by Sambo Says, Yan said:
“I don’t think I have to nor do I want to respond to all of his little provocations. I don’t think this is the fight for that. I don’t have to twist anything or hype anything up. I don’t need any of that. So he can goof around and get the public engaged. I’ll just beat him. That is it … That very same night will be the title fight in our weight class. Sterling and Dillashaw will be fighting. So it will be a good time for us to fight.”
Petr Yan is a former bantamweight and interim bantamweight champion, and clearly has winning the title back on his mind. Most fighters chasing the belt will only fight ranked opponents above them. However, No. 1 ranked Yan happily accepted a fight with No. 13 ranked O’Malley. He explained:
“We all know that Sean is one of the personalities that the UFC is pushing. They believe in him. When I expressed my desire to fight him, it was very enticing to the UFC. Not every top five fighter wants to fight the thirteenth ranked fighter. This is risky, you are risking your position … This will be three rounds and not five rounds, so I’ll have to be locked in from the start.I’ll have to do a fighting round in the warm up room before the walkout. I believe that my fight with O’Malley is much more global and will be much more anticipated than the title fight.”