Sean O’Malley is facing a major step up in competition for his next fight against former bantamweight champion Petr Yan at UFC 280 in October, and while some have raised eyebrows at the matchmaking, ‘Suga’ sees it as an opportunity to become a superstar.
“I just believe in creating these powerful moments, these magical moments, and I think this is how superstars are created,” O’Malley told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour show this week. “I go out there and starch Petr Yan, Oct. 22 in Abu Dhabi, that’s massive. That is how superstars are born and I just feel like this is a perfect, perfect fight in my career. Perfect time, perfect opponent. It’s just my time to go out there.
“I’m just excited about the opportunity, and I believe I’ll capitalize on the opportunity. I think the higher level guys I fight, the better ‘Suga’ you guys are going to get. I’ve not been able to show my true MMA skills inside the octagon. I really did think Pedro [Munhoz] was going to be the one to bring it out of me. It wasn’t, obviously. That went how it went, but I think Petr is the guy to see how good I really am.”
At the same time, O’Malley admits that even he loses, it’s not going to be the worst thing in the world since he’s an underdog going up against a leading contender.
“It’s hard not to look at it like that,” O’Malley admitted. “I don’t really want that to be my mindset going into this fight, ‘Well if I lose, I lose to the No. 1 guy.’ That’s what it is though.
O’Malley also expressed some surprise that Yan agreed to fight him in the first place, but suggests that his star power made it an appealing match-up for the former champ.
“I wasn’t expecting him to accept it to be honest,” O’Malley said. “It’s a risky fight for Petr. He’s not stupid. Well, maybe he is. He’s a high level boxer, he’s a high level MMA fighter, he’s got to look at me and know that I have legitimate skills. I’m not really in the ‘Top-10’ but I think in his mind a win over me’s a huge win. Even when Chito supposedly ‘beat me’ he got a fight, he fought Jose Aldo who was coming off a title fight. So a win over me isn’t nothing. I’m the biggest name in the bantamweight division, I’m one of the biggest names in the UFC, so I guess in those terms I’m not surprised he took the fight. Stylistically, we get to see how that plays out Oct. 22.”