UFC 280: Dana White explains what Sean O’Malley must do to have ‘Conor McGregor’ moment

O’Malley’s gradual rise could be accelerated on Saturday when he takes on former champion Petr Yan

Alex Pattle
Combat Sports Correspondent
Wednesday 19 October 2022 15:13 BST
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Louise Thomas

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UFC president Dana White has explained what rising star Sean O’Malley must do to have his ‘Conor McGregor’ moment, as the American prepares for his toughest fight yet this weekend.

O’Malley, 27, established himself as one of the highest-profile fighters in the UFC before he had even entered the bantamweight rankings, due to his proclivity for eye-catching knockouts.

White had been gradually pairing O’Malley with more experienced, known and higher-ranked opponents, before the 53-year-old suddenly arranged a bout between “Sugar Sean” and Petr Yan, a former UFC bantamweight champion, at this Saturday’s UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi.

“There was this comparison recently where Sean O’Malley said, ‘I would love to be the next Conor McGregor and be a big global superstar,’” White told Barstool Sports.

“Well, it’s about winning key fights. He’s already got that thing that people like about him. Now, it’s about winning key fights.

“This fight for him is like Conor’s Jose Aldo fight.”

Breaking down the fight, which most fans expect Yan to win, White said: “This is one of those fights where Petr Yan is the No 1-ranked guy in the world, O’Malley is 27 years old, he’s 15-1, he’s got the experience for this fight.

“He’s got the reach and height advantage, he’s got knockout power, he’s got all the tools to win this fight. He’s just got to get out there and do it, [but] it’s no easy task. Petr Yan is an absolute savage.”

O’Malley is 7-1 in the UFC with 1 No Contest – in his most recent fight – while Yan is 8-2, with one of those defeats having seen the Russian lose the bantamweight belt by disqualification last March. The latter loss saw Yan, 29, narrowly outpointed by Aljamain Sterling this April as he failed to regain the title from the man to whom he lost it.

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