Sean O’Malley wanted an opportunity to prove himself at 135-pounds and that’s exactly what he got last Saturday against Petr Yan in Abu Dhabi.
O’Malley triumphed in a close split decision which, if you pay heed to the actual factors judges use to score fights, was almost certainly the correct call by two of the three cageside judges who combined to award him the win. UFC president Dana White announced in the lead-up to the fight that the winner of the fight would be the likely next challenger for the bantamweight world title once the dust settled between Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan.
However, White also opened the door to the potential of former champ Henry Cejudo being next up for Sterling, especially given that Cejudo has completed the required six months drug testing mandated by USADA to qualify him to return to the Octagon after a near three-year absence.
But for now at least, O’Malley’s win has catapulted him an incredible TEN places up the 135-pound rankings into the position of number one contender behind Sterling, where he now stands above the likes of Yan and even Merab Dvalishvili, Sterling’s training partner who is currently in the midst of an eight-fight win streak and who last fought in August where he defeated Jose Aldo.
So if indeed it is O’Malley who takes on the champ next, that would leave the potential of a hugely interesting fight between Yan and Dvalishvili, and perhaps two of Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera, Cory Sandhagen and Cejudo fighting for position on the bantamweight ladder. Time, of course, will tell how this all shakes at once the UFC matchmakers survey the scene following UFC 280.