Sean O’Malley’s impressive win over Petr Ya at UFC 280 brings him closer to becoming a ‘Conor level’ fighter


Sean O’Malley doesn’t just want to be one of the UFC’s stars, he wants to be the star.

The 27-year-old bantamweight contender fights Petr Yan at UFC 280 on Oct. 29 with a potential title shot on the line, but O’Malley believes that a statement win over the former champion could lead to more than just a shot at UFC gold. O’Malley is already one of the most talked about fighters on the roster and his goal is to achieve the same notoriety as mainstream superstar Conor McGregor.

“Usually I’d say people are hoping I don’t win, but to be honest, I would say the majority of people that think I won’t win actually want me to win,” O’Malley said on ESPN’s DC & RC show. People want to be a star. There’s really no one in the UFC right now that is that Conor level. My goal is to climb and defeat Petr. Although I don’t know it yet, I am climbing for that goal. Conor is my goal. I do not want the competition to get to that point where they are like “You’re right up there with this.”

” I believe that the UFC fan wants this. People want someone they are able to get excited about. Most people believe I will lose, but most of them think it’s going to win. I am not usually that way, but in this instance .”

In addition to the buzz O’Malley has generated outside of the octagon, he’s had plenty of success in it as well, going 7-1 (1 NC) to start his UFC career. However, he is coming off of an unsatisfying no-contest against Pedro Munhoz this past July in a competitive bout that was waved off when O’Malley accidentally poked Munhoz in the eye.

O’Malley still seeks that signature moment to elevate his name to the next level and he was asked if Yan could be his Jose Aldo, who McGregor knocked out in 13 seconds at UFC 194 to become the undisputed UFC featherweight champion and the biggest name in all of MMA.

” I don’t believe I need to rush to knock Petr Yan out, I don’t even have to do it in less than a minute. Just beating Petr is enough. I’m familiar with his toughness and know his abilities. If I have to beat Petr in a final decision, it’s not something I want. However, beating Petr is an accomplishment in and of itself.

“I have about 10 more years in this sport, so my Jose Aldo moment, my quick knockout like that, I believe could be anything. You don’t go into a fight expecting to knock anyone out that fast. It would be a surprise if that happened, and not Petr but to anyone. I think I can knock people out fast, especially if someone makes a mistake. It could also be Jose Aldo’s moment. Not necessarily knocking him out so fast but in stunning fashion.

Yan, a former undisputed and interim UFC champion, has been on a tear since joining the promotion in 2018, going 8-2 with his only losses coming to Aljamain Sterling via disqualification and split decision. He is currently the No. 2 bantamweight in the MMA Fighting Global Rankings.

Given Yan’s impressive credentials, O’Malley knows that whatever method he beats him by, it will be enough to convince the matchmakers to book him in a championship fight next.

” I go out and beat Petr. It was a matchup that I liked, and I did it because I felt that the fight would be good for me. However, realistically after the Pedro fight, O’Malley went to UFC to say, “Hey, Petr Yan, book your fight.” He was the only guy.

“It just makes sense. I go out there and beat up Petr, I get a title shot.”