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Images from UFC 280 of Sean O’Malley vs Petr Yan in the Bantamweight division

“Sugar” Sean O’Malley Conquers Petr Yan | UFC 280

Oct 242022

What an epic battle! Sean “Sugar” O’Malley on defeated Petr Yan at UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. In Saturday night’s main card fight contested at 135 pounds, O’Malley faced the toughest test of his career against the Russian to earn a split decision victory (28-29, 29-28, 29-28) after three rounds.

The epic three-round battle between O’Malley and the number-one ranked bantamweight division contender was awarded the UFC’s “Fight of the Night Bonus” worth a $50,000 payout.

Monster Energy’s O’Malley (16-1, 1 NC) came to Abu Dhabi on the strength of a three-fight victory streak after earning TKO stoppages against Thomas Almeida, Kris Moutinho, and Raulian Paiva. In July 2022, O’Malley’s fight against Pedro Munhoz was ruled a no contest (NC) after an accidental eye poke, but “Sugar Sean” maintained his upward momentum in the bantamweight division by taking the fight against the top-ranked opponent, Russia’s Petr Yan.

As the toughest adversary of O’Malley’s career, 29-year-old Yan (16-4) is a former UFC Bantamweight Champion and came to Abu Dhabi as the division’s top contender. Most recently, Yan failed to reclaim the title in a bout against Aljamain Sterling at UFC 273 in April and needed a victory against O’Malley to get another title shot.

With the stakes enormously high, both opponents lost no time to engage ferociously straight from the opening bell. In Round 1, both challengers unloaded heavy strikes – O’Malley using his reach advantage to deal damage from a distance – before Yan surprised him with a takedown slam to the ground. But demonstrating his grappling defense and fight IQ, “Sugar” returned fire with a heavy left cross in Round 2 and escaped the Russian’s notorious ground game.

In a decisive moment, O’Malley caught his opponent off-guard with a flying knee in Round 3 that wobbled the visibly battered and bleeding Russian. Yan landed another takedown late into the last round, but O’Malley escaped and continued to damage his bloodied opponent until the final bell.

When all was said and done, the judges rated the three-round slugfest a split decision victory for O’Malley (28-29, 29-28, 29-28) for landing the most strikes – 69 significant strikes and 81 total – and doing the most damage. The no-holds-barred battle earned the UFC’s “Fight of the Night Bonus” worth a $50,000 payout.

“Fighting is the craziest sport in the world. I had to go somewhere I have never been before, and that’s what happens when you fight the No. 1 guy in the world,” said Monster Energy’s O’Malley upon winning the bantamweight bout against Petr Yan at UFC 280, adding: “I was hurt more than I have ever been in a fight, considering I don’t always get hit. But I was rocked.”


Saturday night’s victory at UFC 280 marks a career-defining moment for Monster Energy’s O’Malley. It may bring the rising MMA star in contention for a title challenge at 135 pounds. “I mean, I think the people would love to see me be the bantamweight champion. So, we’ll give the people what they want,” said O’Malley. Stay tuned!