Ever since he first burst onto the scene in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Sean O’Malley has made it his mission to become one of the biggest stars in mixed martial arts.
Some would say he’s already edging towards that point, whereas others feel like he’s still got a long way to go – but either way, he’s doing a pretty good job of generating a reaction from the masses.
The 27-year-old clearly believes he has a high ceiling in the bantamweight division and with just two blemishes on his record, a loss to Marlon Vera and a no contest against Pedro Munhoz, it’s hard to tell how accurate he is with that thought process.
Of course, we all know that to be the best you’ve got to beat the best, and that’s what O’Malley will get the chance to do in his next outing.
He’ll meet Petr Yan in one of the featured bouts on the UFC 280 card, with the event going down in Abu Dhabi on October 22.
The fight serves as a big step up in competition from what we’re used to seeing for O’Malley, but during a recent episode of his podcast, he made it clear that he knows in his heart that he is already an elite fighter.
Video: Sean O’Malley defends his ‘elite’ status
“That fight with me vs Petr, I feel like a lot of people are looking at this fight like, Petr is elite and everyone knows that. The question isn’t is Suga elite, it’s who is more elite, me or Petr.
“I already know I’m f***ing elite, I already know I can hang with the best guys in the world. The Pedro fight I didn’t really get to show that but he’s top 10, didn’t hit me, threw a couple leg kicks and [I] checked most of them, whatever.
“I didn’t dominate the fight or whoop his ass by any means, but he didn’t hit me.
“I already know I’m elite, the question isn’t ‘if’ I’m elite [enough] to fight Petr.”
After tearing through everyone put in his way upon entering the UFC, Petr Yan was met with some resistance in the form of a disqualification loss to Aljamain Sterling in March 2021.
The defeat led to him losing the belt and while he did bounce back with a win over Cory Sandhagen, he wound up dropping a decision loss to Sterling in their rematch at UFC 273.
‘No Mercy’ has made his feelings for O’Malley known in the past, and he’ll be out to make a statement at the Etihad Arena.