Anthony Smith: Sean O’Malley is’very intelligent’ in matchmaking. Petr Yan is ‘probably most easy’ matchup of bantamweight elite.


Sean O’Malley may be a lot of things, but stupid isn’t one of them.

Despite a resume that doesn’t include a single win over a top 15-ranked opponent, O’Malley will jump the line at bantamweight for his upcoming showdown against ex-champion Petr Yan at UFC 280.

On paper, it’s more difficult a matchup than anything O’Malley has previously faced, but one-time UFC title challenger Anthony Smith cautions anyone who thinks the always-colorful bantamweight is going to get blown out of the water.

“I think Sean O’Malley’s very smart with his matchmaking,” Smith said on The Fighter vs. The Writer. He’s extremely calculated and that’s what I think. I think more people maybe need to be better about doing that.

“Maybe that was my way to defeat anyone at any time and any place. But maybe it wasn’t the best path to ultimate success. The biggest fight for the largest name guy and the highest money is the easiest. I’m not sure. You will find many guys ranked lower than Petr Yan. Sean O’Malley might have more trouble with .”


To O’Malley’s credit he’s requested bigger fights against better-ranked opponents, but this will be the first UFC booking against someone with Yan’s credentials.

” I think Yan would be a great matchup with Sean O’Malley stylistically,” Smith said. “He’s shorter, he’s stockier, he’s got a really large reach disadvantage. I think the way that he fights favors the style of Sean O’Malley. You can watch Sean O’Malley beating Petr Yan in a parallel world.

“Is that world as clear if it’s Cory Sandhagen? Petr Yan is a better example of the path. This is kind of what I am trying to say. I think that he’s very smart. I think he’s getting an opportunity to skip a lot of people that are going to give him problems.”

Whether it’s Sandhagen or Vera, Smith is seeing a lot more fighters than Yan, which can cause O’Malley headaches.

“I really like Sean O’Malley, I love his game, but even a guy if they run it back with ‘Chito’ [Marlon Vera], I think that’s a tough one,” Smith said. “I’m not saying he can’t beat him but … that’s a tough fight.

“I think he has a tougher time with ‘Chito’ than he does with Petr Yan. He seems to have a harder time dealing with Cory Sandhagen, than with Petr Yan. I think he knows that. His credit. I think it’s a fantastic fight. It’s an artistic dream to be No. 2 guy that happens to have that skill set.

” If you take a look at Aljamain Sterling and TJ Dillashaw’s matchups, these are really difficult matchups to Sean O’Malley. Petr Yan out of all of them is probably the easiest.”

While Smith is picking O’Malley to win at UFC 280, he doesn’t expect Yan to just fade away and there’s definitely a world where the former bantamweight king gets the win.

But in his opinion, Smith sees O’Malley offering a look that might frustrate Yan not to mention only having three rounds to work versus five rounds in a main event or title fight.

“If Petr Yan comes in, he’s mean, he’s angry, he lost his title, he’s trying to get back to it and he just starts walking him down and walking through all of his bulls***, it’s going to be a long night for Sean O’Malley, or a very short one,” Smith said.

” I just feel that Yan will get trapped on the outside. Sean O’Malley is not going to end Yan, I think. There won’t be any crazy. Petr Yan’s going to have a tough time getting to him, and I think that Sean does a really good job of running people into s*** sometimes, and he was very similar in the Munhoz fight. I think it’s going to be close like that. It won’t be as thrilling as everyone wants it to. I think it’s going to look very similar to the Pedro Munhoz fight where he’s just kind of on the outside, picking at him and I think the numbers are just going to add up. I am [going with Sean O’Malley].”