This past Saturday, former interim bantamweight titleholder Yan took on rising prospect O’Malley on the main card of UFC 280. ‘No Mercy‘ entered the bout as a sizable betting favorite against the relatively inexperienced opponent. O’Malley put in an impressive performance to keep the fight competitive. Although he absorbed some big shots, O’Malley had Yan hurt multiple times and managed to get the nod on the judges’ scorecards by a split decision which many felt could have swung either way.
Following the shocking upset, many fighters and fans took to their social media accounts to criticize the result, calling it a ‘robbery.’
Sterling, reigning 135-pound king, also competed on the same night against former two-time champion TJ Dillashaw. He added a second title defense to his belt after dispatching Dillashaw in round two of a dominant showing.
Sterling Believes Yan Got Robbed
In an appearance on “The MMA Hour” with Ariel Helwani, ‘Funk Master’ shared his thoughts on the razor-thin decision win by O’Malley over Yan.
“If I’m being honest, I haven’t even thought about it,” Sterling said (transcribed by MMA Fighting). “I literally tweeted to O’Malley that I would have actually hung out with the guy. I felt bad for Yan, I did think he got robbed, I think O’Malley was a little shocked and perplexed at the decision as well. I think it kind of caught him off-guard, that was a split decision, I think it caught him even more off-guard that he won.”
Sterling drew a comparison with O’Malley, suggesting he was in a similar position himself but with one key difference.
“Now he knows what it feels like when I was in the same position [with Yan] and the difference is I actually knew I won the fight and he’s on the side where he won the fight and he doesn’t even know if he really won the fight until he goes back and watches it. While I knew, based on the strike count, that I freakin’ won the fight, so at the end of the day this is the most competitive division. People are going to try find any way to discredit me.”
Sterling Says O’Malley Is the Biggest Fight
Going into the sold-out pay-per-view event, company president Dana White indicated that the contest between O’Malley and Yan would be a top contender bout, with the winner getting a shot at the victor of Sterling and Dillashaw.
Now that Sterling retained his title, he argues a matchup with O’Malley would make the most sense business-wise.
“I think if anyone is the biggest fight maybe it’s O’Malley, in terms of name value, in terms of performance,” Sterling said. “I think he saw what I did to T.J., he saw what I did to Yan and any of these previous opponents that were in the top five, top 10. Remember, my third UFC fight I fought the No. 6 guy ranked in the world and since then I haven’t fought anyone that was unranked. So my resume speaks for itself.
“These guys who are catching me in the most bantamweight wins, they fought guys that were on losing records and things like that. I never did any of that. No shortcuts, no handouts, so if you can’t respect that then you don’t respect the game.”