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Sean O’Malley sets his eyes on UFC gold after UFC 280

Sean O’Malley is one of the brightest prospects coming out from Dana White’s contender series. He is a kind of personality-driven superstars like McGregor and Nate Diaz in the UFC. Sean O’Malley has been pushed hard by the promotion due to his outspoken nature and charismatic personality. He has the potential to back his trash talk up inside the Octagon and believes in his hype. He is a man of self-belief which has made him a must-see fighter.

O’Malley has been heavily criticized by the fans for not competing with ranked fighters. He remained unranked at bantamweight, and that’s large because he had yet to fight anyone who’s in the official UFC rankings. He was known as an ‘’unranked champion’’ before he was ranked #13 after his win against Raulian Paiva at UFC 269. His last fight was Pedro Munhoz at UFC 276 earlier this month. It was ruled out as a no contest after an accidental eye poke rendered Munhoz unable to continue in round 2. Despite a no-contest, still his rank improved from #13 to #12.

O’Malley is currently 15-1-1 in MMA with his only loss coming against Marlon Vera via TKO in the very first round but Suga doesn’t count it as a loss because he suffered an ankle injury during the fight. It was the first time he was fighting a ranked fighter, but it put a dent in his winning streak. Aside from that, it’s been mostly a smooth run for O’Malley.

O’Malley indicated the reason behind the unranked fights is that he makes the same amount of money per fight, regardless of who’s in the cage with him. O’Malley’s kept on building his name by beating unranked fighters until his contract is up – or until the UFC is ready to talk about a new deal. Fans won’t want to hear this, but it’s smart for O’Malley to do things his way and at least try to grab what little leverage he can by putting himself in the best position to succeed.

The Suga Show is finally getting a major step up in competition which might put him one step away from UFC gold. UFC has announced that the former bantamweight champion Petr Yan will be facing O’Malley at UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi. It will be a huge challenge for Suga to fight against one of the best fighters in the UFC. Yan is currently at #13 in the pound-for-pound rankings. He is coming off a split decision loss to bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling in a title unification bout at UFC 273.

"I'm getting the fight that I wanted and the fight that the people want," O'Malley said on ESPN DC & RC. "In my eyes, Petr is the No. 1 contender right now. He's pretty much 1-1 against Aljo ... he could be considered the champion. ... Going in there and stepping up against a guy like Petr is exciting, it's motivating and it's the biggest fight in the bantamweight division right now."

He has even set his eyes on the UFC gold. 'Sugar' recently appeared on the Believe You Me podcast alongside host Michael Bisping. 'The Count' suggested that if O'Malley beats Yan, he doesn't see the winner of Vera vs. Cruz getting a title shot ahead of him and the #13 Bantamweight contender agreed to Bisping’s comment.

"I f***ing beat Petr, I am gonna be the champ. I'm gonna fight for the belt. That's what everyone wants. The UFC needs a champion like me. So, you're 100 percent right. I go out there, starch Petr, he face plants October 22 in Abu Dhabi in a massive card — you're pretty accurate in saying I'd probably get the title shot. Especially with Aljo and TJ being on that card."

Petr Yan was the only fighter available in the division who was without the fight and O’Malley wanted to have another run before the end of the year, so he was successful in calling out the best fighter. O’Malley has fought most of his professional career on his home soil. It will be for the first time he will be fighting in Abu Dhabi, and it comes with the challenges like time switches and travel. It will be a completely different scenario from the usual.

Nobody would have thought about this match-up so early in O’Malley’s career. That situation happened with the UFC President when matchmaker Sean Shelby proposed the O’Malley-Yan fight for Oct. 22, He had to pitch it to White, who wasn’t immediately sold. The UFC president initially thought it was too soon for “The Suga Show.”

“We were in matchmaking and Sean Shelby actually came up with that fight,” said White at post-fight press conference for Tuesday’s Contender Series event. “Sean Shelby wanted that fight. I said, ‘Are you out of your mind? You don’t make that fight now. This and that.’ He told me why he’d make it and O’Malley’s ready. You know, O’Malley’s about to be 28 years old in October, in his absolute prime right now, hits like a truck.

“He ended up selling me on it. And more importantly, both guys wanted it. And even more important than that, when we announced it, everybody went crazy and loves it. And even more important than that, it should be fucking a really good fight.”

It will be a breakthrough in his career if O’Malley manages to upset the Russian. The match will not be less than the main event as all eyes will be on the underdog ‘’The Suga Show’’. Petr Yan will be looking to rebound from the hard-fought battle loss against Aljamain Sterling. Yan will look like a fool if he under-estimated O’Malley. He won't leave a stone unturned to protect his glory while O’Malley continues to thrive.

O’Malley’s approach might be the wrong one. A heavy defeat against Yan in such a young career might shatter his confidence. But O’Malley thinks it's best for him so that he could test his skills against a former champ.


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