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Petr Yan: A win over Sean O’Malley at UFC 280 ’should guarantee me the next title shot’

Petr Yan on The MMA Hour

Petr Yan thinks he’s next in line for the bantamweight title with a win at UFC 280.

This Saturday, Yan faces Sean O’Malley in a featured bantamweight main card bout at UFC 280. It’s a bit of a step down for the former champion who is the No. 1-ranked bantamweight in the UFC rankings, while O’Malley is only No. 12, but according to “No Mercy” this was a fight he wanted.

“I wasn’t impressed with his performance and I want to say it again, I was the one who chose to fight him,” Yan told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “He wasn’t the one who picked me. I know the UFC really believes in him, and he also believes that stylistically it’s a good fight for him, but I’m here to disappoint and upset him.”

Given his low ranking, O’Malley was not the most obvious choice of opponent for Yan. In fact, before the fight was announced, there was talks of a fight between Yan and No. 5-ranked Marlon Vera, that ultimately fell through when Vera accepted a bout with Dominick Cruz. But to here Yan tell it, Vera fumbled the bag on that one, leaving O’Malley to pick up the slack.

“There were talks about fighting ‘Chito’ Vera,” Yan said. “I accepted a fight with him in September. I wanted to fight him in September but he wanted to fight in August and he couldn’t wait a few weeks to fight me, so it means he didn’t put his actions where his words were. If he really wanted to fight me, he would have waited because I’m the No. 1 contender in the world. Three weeks, it’s not a very long time if you want a fight with No. 1 contender in the ranks.”

O’Malley, meanwhile, did not have any issues waiting for Yan, in part because the fight presents a huge opportunity for him. If O’Malley manages to pull off the upset, “Sugar” is likely going to earn the next title shot, against the winner of the bantamweight championship fight between Aljamain Sterling and T.J. Dillashaw, also taking place at UFC 280. And Yan believes the same is true for him.

“I think a win on Saturday should guarantee me the next title shot,” Yan said. “And if T.J. wins, that’s going to be a very big fight for all the MMA fans, and if Sterling wins it’s going to be the trilogy.”

The UFC has not declared Yan vs. O’Malley to be a No. 1 contender’s bout but given the promotional push behind Yan in recent years, and the fact that Dana White believes Yan was screwed by the judges in his rematch with Sterling, it’s entirely possible that Yan earns another crack at the belt with a win. And should that hold true, despite his long and sordid history with Sterling, Yan says he doesn’t care who he gets to fight, just so long as he gets to do so for the belt.

“For me, my goal is only a title fight,” Yan said. “Who will be champion, Sterling or T.J. Dillashaw? I don’t care. I want to smash him.”

UFC 280 takes place Saturday, Oct. 22 at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi.

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