The biggest question going into the fight was about O’Malley’s ability to hang with a former champion and someone who is regarded as potentially the best active bantamweight fighter on the planet right now.
And he proved his talent by hurting Yan multiple times on the feet in the three-round contest, and ultimately winning the fight via split decision. However, Yan endured as well, stunning “Suga” and utilizing his full mixed martial arts arsenal to test the rising star.
In the end, Suga earned the biggest win of his career, although many have scored the fight for “No Mercy.”
Ahead of the fight, UFC president Dana White told Barstool Sports’ Robbie Fox that the winner of the night’s featured bout would battle the man who is victorious in the UFC 280 co-main event featuring champion Aljamain Sterling and TJ Dillashaw.
With the win, O’Malley extended his unbeaten streak to five and improved his professional mixed martial arts record to 15-1 with one no-contest. On the other end, Yan is now on the first losing streak of his career, going 0-2 in his last two trips inside the Octagon. His record fell to 17-4.
UFC World Reacts to the Controversial Decision
Here’s what some members of the combat sports community had to say:
Former two-time UFC welterweight title challenger and the promotiom’s “BMF,” Jorge Masvidal, tweeted: “Judges in Abu Dhabi are f****** careers up #ufc280.”
Ex-two division UFC champion Henry Cejudo tweeted: “Worst robbery I’m UFC history, I hope our sport doesn’t become boxing @danawhite”
Middleweight star and top-ranked contender Paulo Costa tweeted: “Yeahhhhhh f*** the dwarf.”
“The MMA Hour” host Ariel Helwani tweeted: “That was incredible. Wish there were two more rounds. Wanna watch that again. Super close.”
“I like how O’Malley is handling this,” he continued. “That’s someone who still processing what he’s been through, and as he said, Yan took him to a place he’s never been to.”
Reactions Continued to Pour In
Former two-time light heavyweight title challenger Dominick Reyes: “Wow talk about UFC privilege this is getting outta hand.”
“Morning Kombat” host Luke Thomas tweeted: “Sean O’Malley wins via split. It was definitely a close fight, but that one seems a bit off to me.”
MMA star Dillon Danis tweeted: “robbery.”
TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter wrote: “O’Malley gets the nod via split decision. Wow! First round was close. O’Malley landed the biggest shot of the round, but much of the round was controlled by Yan, who landed voluminous ground and pound.”
“Petr Yan is 1-3 in his last four and would arguably still be considered the best bantamweight skill-for-skill in the UFC by many,” Bronsteter continued.
Respected MMA bettor Luca Fury tweeted: “I’m usually the one saying incorrect decisions are NOT robberies and people are overreacting. But in the case of Yan vs O’Malley, I have to agree with people. That was indeed a straight up robbery. 30-27 or 29-28 Yan. Any score for O’Malley is indefensible. #UFC280.”