Sean O’Malley is taking as big a leap forward in competition as a fighter could ask for.
UFC 280 is set to be a busy night of action on October 22, 2022 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Among the crop of action will be two pivotal matchups in the bantamweight division. Before the title is disputed between champion, Aljamain Sterling, and TJ Dillashaw, rising star, O’Malley, is put in charge of former champion, Petr Yan.
O’Malley vs. Yan sees the 135-pound No. 10 contender up against the No. 1. Therefore, a big upset win for O’Malley would launch him straight into title contention, if not earn him a crack in the belt. Sterling will be watching ahead of his own fight and sees an O’Malley win leading to such a possibility.
“I mean, it would be hard to deny it, whether it’s [against] me or TJ Knock on wood, it’s me,” Sterling told LowKick MMA. “But yeah, it would be hard to deny the guy. I think this would be his second real test and if he passes it – it would just be a little weird if he were to get the title shot [Marlon] ‘Chito’ [Vera], the guy who knocked him out in the first round and in less than three minutes. So that would be a little weird.
“I don’t know,” he concluded. “Yes and no. It could be a popularity contest, which is kind of the UFC, so I’d say it would be O’Malley.
In his UFC run so far, Yan has only tasted defeat in two of his 10 outings, both against Sterling. “Funkmaster” defended his title against Yan via split decision at UFC 273 in April 2022.
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