SEAN O’MALLEY is on course for superstardom and a crack at the bantamweight title following a brutal victory over Petr Yan.
The Dana White’s Contenders Series alumni locked horns with the former bantamweight king on a stacked UFC 280 card in Abu Dhabi.
Many O’Malley‘s clash with the Russian wrecking machine had come too early in his career.
But they were ultimately proven wrong as he scored a split-decision victory stoppage over No Mercy to thrust himself into title contention.
And the American has now set his sights on the bantamweight throne.
He said: “I think people want to see me fight for the bantamweight title. So let’s give the people what they want.”
Both men began the contest with a number of feints to try to get a read on one another.
But Yan soon began pressing to negate the Americanâs reach advantage.
The former champion found a home for a good body kick but ended up eating two straight right hands a few moments later.
Yan changed tact midway through the round with a takedown but was initially shrugged off.
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Two consecutive left hooks after a knee stomp from Yan paved the way for a big takedown.
O’Malley managed to get back to his feet and land a takedown of his own before the buzzer went.
Yan opened the second round with a hard body kick, which he used to pour more pressure on O’Malley
But he was soon rocked by a big overhand left – although he returned the favour moments later before taking the fight to the ground.
The Russian managed to land a series of strikes in full guard but was unable to keep O’Malley on his back.
O’Malley managed to return to his feet but was grounded again by a beautiful Muay Thai sweep.
Suga managed to find his range with his long jab that frustrated Yan – who began missing with telegraphed shots before the end of the round.
OâMalley tried to stay long early in the third and final round and looked to pepper Yan with his jab.
The Montanan landed the best strike of the fight – a nasty knee to the head – midway through the round and cut Yan.
That didn’t deter the former champ, who rocked O’Malley with a big right hand.
Yan looked to bring the fight to the ground once again and eventually landed a prolonged double leg. O’Malley, however, managed to return to his feet.
A huge left hook from Yan drew a massive pop from the crowd – who were loving what they saw.
Yan appeared to be on course for a decision win after securing yet another sweep and landing punches from full guard.
But the judges ultimately preferred the striking work of O’Malley, with two of them scoring it 29-28 in his favour.
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