Sean O’Malley’s toughest test to date is this weekend when he faces former champion Petr Yan in a three-round bantamweight bout at UFC 280.
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Yan steps back into the cage following his split decision defeat to Aljamain Sterling in April and remains the #1 contender in the division. Despite his recognition as one of the very best in the 135-pound division, he’ll essentially be defending his #1 ranking against the #11 contender, O’Malley, this weekend.
O’Malley is undefeated in his last four fights, with wins against Raulian Paiva, Kris Moutinho, and Thomas Almeida. His most recent fight with Pedro Munmhoz ended in a no-contest following an eye poke in the second round.
Yan is favored to win at UFC 280, with oddsmakers setting the line at -265 for Yan to win and O’Malley as a +225 underdog. However, many UFC fighters believe that O’Malley could manage an upset this weekend and they shared their thoughts with James Lynch in the MMA Pros Pick series.
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UFC 280 is a PPV event hosted in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and will air at a special time in the United States. See below for full details about the fight start time and also how to watch the event live on
- Date: Saturday, October 22
- Time: PPV Main Card starts at 2 pm ET, Prelims start at 10 am ET
ESPN+ PPV (order here)
Order UFC 280 on the ESPN+ website to watch every main card fight live, including Oliveira vs. Makhachev, Sterling vs. Dillashaw, Yan vs. O’Malley, and all other fights. After ordering, fans can stream every UFC 280 fight to a preferred device, including TVs, mobiles, computers, laptops, tablets, and more.
Yan vs. O’Malley predictions
“O’Malley has the offense to hang with Yan, but sometimes his defense isn’t there. I think he just forgets about it or just overly relies on his speed. He is very fast, but that’s a dangerous game when you’re going against Petr Yan, and I think that Yan will be able to capitalize on those mistakes because he is technically sound all the way in every position.” (via James Lynch – MMA Pros Pick)
“I’mma go with O’Malley. Every time I say something against him, he shuts me the fuck up. I’m going O’Malley on this one.” (via James Lynch – MMA Pros Pick)
“Everyone jokes about Sean O’Malley fighting the lower ranks, lower ranks, and then jumping up. Glad to see Sean fighting someone at the top now and see where he stands among the division. He hasn’t fought many of the top-tier guys yet, and this will be a big test for him. But I do think Yan will win.” (via James Lynch – MMA Pros Pick)
“Let’s put Sean up over there. He has the biggest ego and most confidence, and he’ll keep that all the way up to the fight and during the fight.” (via James Lynch – MMA Pros Pick)
“I see Yan winning. The way I see Sean O’Malley winning is coming out fast and sharp because Petr Yan takes a second to get going. And the size difference, it’ll take Yan a bit of time to figure that range out. I got Yan winning. The longer the fight goes on, I’ve got Yan winning.” (via James Lynch – MMA Pros Pick)
“This is hard to say because I think O’Malley has some of the best striking in the game. He’s so effective and accurate and confident in what he does that it’s so dangerous for anyone who stands up with him. Petr is a solidly put-together fighter, well-rounded, and he just lasts, he can out-damage, and he can win wars of attrition. The way he mixes it up is just next level as well. He has great fight IQ, he knows how to create advantages during a fight. Honestly, I’m on the fence for this fight. I honestly cannot say who will win. I don’t think either one of them has a significant advantage over the other. I just think it’s going to be a fight to watch.” (via James Lynch – MMA Pros Pick)
“Man, that’s a really good fight. Stylistically, that’s such a good fight. It’s such an exciting matchup. Because everything that O’Malley is really good at — using the distance, working angles, misdirections, things like that — Petr has the style that kind of nullifies all of that. He has a high guard, he’s super disciplined with his defense, there are really no wasted movements with Petr. He’s not like an overly tricky fighter. You kind of know what you’re going to get, but he’s so good at what he does. I think O’Malley is going to get it done. Do I think it’s going to be a walk-off like how it always is? No, not necessarily.
I do think O’Malley has a style that’s going to beat Petr, and I do think O’Malley is hungry, and motivated, he’s fighting the number one guy. It’s easy to get out of bed and train hard when you’re fighting the number one guy as the number thirteen guy. It’s hard to get out of bed and train hard when you’re the number one guy fighting the number 13 guy. I do think O’Malley wins, and I’m probably in the minority, but that’s fine.” (via James Lynch – MMA Pros Pick)
“That’s a hard one. I think Petr Yan if he takes him down, man he could expose O’Malley for the lack of grappling. But O’Malley is really tricky, and he’s really smart. He’s got good distance with his striking, and he could keep his distance, but I think Petr Yan.” (via James Lynch – MMA Pros Pick)
“Man, that’s a three-round fight. I think I could take O’Malley on that. I like watching O’Malley fight anyway, he’s one of my favorites to watch and study, but I think that’s a job he can get done in three rounds, especially. Petr Yan is a bit of a slow starter, and I think O’Malley could get a jump on him and get that job done, man. I’m taking the dog on that one.” (via James Lynch – MMA Pros Pick)
“I think O’Malley can win that one. I think people were taken aback when they saw that and thought it’d be a layup for Yan, but styles make fights. Striking at distance, O’Malley is really good at it. I don’t think Yan really has the wrestling to give a huge problem to O’Malley, so I think the fight stays where O’Malley is most comfortable, and when he’s comfortable, he’s good.” (via James Lynch – MMA Pros Pick)
“Sean’s kind of crazy. He’s got his looks, he’s always doing something crazy on social media or whatever. But those guys give so much attention to the sport, and it’s great to see that younger generation kind of come up. He’s kind of crazy. I’d like to see him do well, but I think he loses that fight. I just don’t think he’s ready to fight high-level guys. Man, I was really hoping to see that fight against Pedro Munhoz play out, but that fight happened the way it did, and then they gave him Petr, and I’m like okay. If he wins this, he might be the champ. It’s crazy. I don’t know if he’s ready for it or not, but I’d like to see him do well because he has so much energy.” (via James Lynch – MMA Pros Pick)
“I’m going to have to say, since seeing Petr Yan go against Cory Sandhagen like he did and kind of Sean O’Malley has the same fighting style as Cory Sandhagen, you know, they both have high-volume striking. I don’t think that Sean O’Malley has the wrestling defense that Cory Sandhagen has. I’m going to go with Petr Yan. I think he’s hungry to get back in the winning column after getting that disqualification against Aljamain Sterling and getting beat by Aljamain Sterling after that. I feel like Petr Yan is going to bring home the W.” (via James Lynch – MMA Pros Pick)
That’s a tough one. Petr is one of the biggest gangsters in the division. Sean is just so precise and so accurate. I want to side with Petr on this one, but I feel like a lot of people underestimate Sean, and he still has a lot of potential there, but I’m going to side with Petr.” (via James Lynch – MMA Pros Pick)
“Petr Yan is one of my favorite fighters. He’s one of the most technically sound guys I’ve ever seen. Obviously, he showed some minor flaws when he fought Aljo last time… AKA he couldn’t fight a long, lanky backpack. I’ve always been a fan of Yan, so I hope he gets it. O’Malley surprises me every time, but I’m a big Petr Yan fan, so I’ve got him.” (via James Lynch – MMA Pros Pick)
“I think O’Malley is going to get it done. I don’t really like the dude, but I respect his style. I respect him for being a big 135’er too. I think his distance management is amazing. And I think Petr’s distance management is not really the best. He’s more of a Dutch kickboxing kind of guy. He’s really close, in the pocket fighting. I believe the difference in this fight for Petr Yan, I believe, if he can get him to the ground so we can see his ground game, that’d be the factor. But if it stays standing, I think O’Malley is going to pick him apart. He’s going to be a sniper.” (via James Lynch – MMA Pros Pick)
“I think Yan is probably going to win. You know, I don’t dislike anyone in the division. Like, I get it. We’re all playing characters, and we’re all going after the same dream, and so we kind of have to have this underlying burning hatred for each other which I totally understand. I don’t really dislike O’Malley, I actually like him. I sat next to him at one of the shows, and he was a cool guy.
I do think that how you take a loss says a lot about you. I think that his loss to Chito and how he handled that one and the way he handled the Pedro one after how it went was kind of lame, especially considering how the first round looked. The first round was like… you don’t get to really talk the way you’re talking after the first round went the way it looked, in my opinion.
Honestly, I think O’Malley hopefully has a really good game plan, but Yan’s pressure is a lot, and I know O’Malley moves best when he’s moving backward. It’s only a three-round fight, so that’s a bit of an advantage for O’Malley. But still, Yan should have learned from last fights that you just can’t give up rounds in the beginning. He can’t do that in this one, especially if it’s just a three-rounder.” (via James Lynch – MMA Pros Pick)
Formerly the lead MMA Editor at RealSport.