Bantamweight star Sean O’Malley arrived in Abu Dhabi a couple of weeks out to adjust to the time difference, and to hear him tell it at this week’s UFC 280 media day, he’d do it all again.
“They offer you Petr Yan, big opportunity, I’m not gonna say no ’cause it’s in Abu Dhabi,” O’Malley (15-1, 1NC) explained ahead of what is widely expected to be a title eliminator. “It’s actually been really fun, I would not mind fighting here again.”
When it comes to Yan, the fight was a no-brainer. Really, O’Malley noted, there were no other options.
“He was the only guy after that Pedro Munhoz fight. I went back to the UFC and said ‘hey I want to book a fight.’ Obviously that one wasn’t a satisfying victory,” said O’Malley. His fight with Munhoz actually ended in a No Contest, due to an accidental eye poke, though O’Malley appeared to be well ahead in the bout. “Petr was literally the only guy in the top 10 without a fight. He turned down Chito, Petr turned down Chito, so I don’t think he really had an option. I think UFC went to him and said ‘hey you can’t just keep turning these guys down, you have to fight the Suga Show.'”
“I know he was saying he picked that fight, I don’t believe that. I think he got bullied into it.”
UFC President Dana White has gone on record to say that the winner of O’Malley vs. Yan will get the next title shot at 135lbs. “I already knew that, basically, so it didn’t really do much,” O’Malley said when asked about that news, noting that he’s already the biggest draw in the division. “I think this is a massive fight. It’s obviously not a main event, but this could be a main event. This is a massive fight.”
When it comes to Yan’s last performance, something the Russian has complained should have been a win for himself, O’Malley sides with bantamweight champ Aljamain Sterling.
“It’s hard to say you won when Aljo took his back in three different rounds and held him for a little bit.” While O’Malley admits he needs to re-watch what he referred to as a “close” fight, he gave the edge to Sterling.
While Yan is noted for his slow starts, O’Malley chalks at least some of that up to the former champ competing in a lot of five round fights. And he’s not expecting it in this Saturday’s three-round affair.
“It’s a completely different mindset when you have a three-round fight compared to a five-round fight. So I’m not really expecting him to come out there and kind of start as slow. He knows he only has fifteen minutes, it’s a lot different mindset then having twenty-five minutes. I expect him to come out and try to get busy a little bit right away, but it doesn’t really matter to me, I can adapt. I think that’s what being high level is, being able to adapt whether he comes out slow, fast, whatever. I feel like I’m just better.”
Watch the full UFC 280 media day appearance by Sean O’Malley above. The event takes place this Saturday, October 22, 2022 at the Eithad Arena in Abu Dhabi, UAE.