This Saturday in Abu Dhabi, Yan will be fighting 10 places down the 135-pound ladder against #11-ranked contender O’Malley. With that in mind, the main card clash marks an opportunity for “Sugar” to leap straight into title contention and towards potential superstardom.
That will certainly be the case should O’Malley make good on his confidence about possibly becoming the first man to finish “No Mercy” come October 22.
And with that in mind, O’Malley’s matchup at UFC 280 has drawn comparisons to the breakout moment for former two-division champion Conor McGregor. The budding megastar saw his notoriety smash through the ceiling at UFC 194 in 2015 when he knocked José Aldo out in just 13 seconds.
For many, including UFC President Dana White, O’Malley has the opportunity to begin a similar ascension to further fame with an upset victory over Yan this weekend.
In the Russian’s mind, the matchup comparison is somewhat warranted. But one area he sees as completely different? The result come fight night.
Yan Expects To Stop O’Malley’s ‘McGregor Moment’
During his appearance at UFC 280 media day on Wednesday, Yan was asked about talk of O’Malley’s increasing stardom and possible McGregor-esque moment inside the Etihad Arena on Saturday.
In a previous interview, “Sugar” named the Irishman as the only person he’s ever looked up to. Perhaps acknowledging that Yan branded him a McGregor “wannabe,” whilst also comparing how high the promotion have been on both men.
But for Yan, that’s about as far as the comparisons go.
In terms of O’Malley being able to replicate McGregor’s 2015 display and have his hand raised, the Russian dismissed that as a possibility.
“Considering the other side of things, you can definitely compare it to Conor vs. Aldo fight,” Yan said. “Sean is a UFC project and a Conor wannabe. But the result of this matchup will be different… You saw my fight with Aldo already.”
In what’s been a rarity across his professional career to date, O’Malley will enter his UFC 280 appearance as an underdog, and with a whole host of fans and pundits doubting his chances.
While he’ll be hoping to prove his skills in his toughest test to date, Yan will be targeting the kind of firm performance some expect of him given the edge he has in high-level experience.
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