‘No Mercy’ became the 135-pound titleholder when he defeated Jose Aldo for the vacant title back in 2020. The Russian fighter then went on to lose the belt in his first defense when he was disqualified for an illegal knee against Aljamain Sterling.
After defeating Cory Sandhagen at UFC 267, then interim-champ Yan and Sterling ran it back a year later. The 29-year-old once again came up short, narrowly missing out on recapturing the title via split decision.
It appears as though the Russian isn’t looking to leave his upcoming bout in the hands of the judges this time. Recent training footage has shown ‘No Mercy’ bare-knuckle sparring without the use of pads.
Yan heads into UFC 280 as the No.1-ranked bantamweight, while O’Malley sits at No.12. The disparity in the rankings suggests a major gulf in class, but it’s clear from the training sessions that the Russian isn’t taking this bout lightly.
The 29-year-old will be hoping to not only put an end to O’Malley’s hype, but is surely hoping a victory against the hot prospect will be enough to earn him a shot at the title once again.
Watch the intense training here:
Aljamain Sterling previews Sean O’Malley vs. Petr Yan
Aljamain Sterling has weighed in on Sean O’Malley vs. Petr Yan. The champion suggested that the rankings don’t mean the bantamweight clash is as clear cut as some might think.
‘Funk Master’, who has shared the octagon twice with Yan, believes the Russian fighter starts most of his fights slowly, which is usually when Sean O’Malley is at his best. The bantamweight champion has even suggested the stylistic matchup could mean it will be a tough night for Yan.
In an interview on Submission Radio, Sterling said:
“I think it is a good technical matchup for both guys. If you look at it on paper, obviously O’Malley’s untested. The one time he had a test, he failed and that was to Chito Vera. Obviously, it’s a weird injury that he had with that leg kick. He’s got good footwork, he’s got good range, he’s got good movement. And then you got Petr Yan, who’s super durable, super tough.”
Sterling added that a three-round fight will benefit the “untested” Sean O’Malley against Petr Yan:
“If he starts behind like that and gives O’Malley a chance in a three-round fight, an opportunity to run the score on him, pick his shots, it could be a miserable night for Yan.”
Catch the full interview here: