Russian Yan stunned at UFC 280 — RT Sport News

Petr Yan’s quest to reclaim the UFC bantamweight title suffered a major setback as the Russian slipped to a split decision loss to American rival Sean O’Malley at UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi.

Yan never looked completely comfortable throughout the contest with the lanky O’Malley, who found success with his jab and prevailed 29-28 on two of three scorecards, while the other scored it 29-28 for Yan.

Yan was the number one contender at 135 pounds going into the fight and was looking to regroup after losing his rematch to Aljamain Sterling on the scorecards at UFC 273 in April.

But ‘No Mercy’ ended up suffering a third loss under the UFC banner, never reaching the heights against O’Malley that the Russian has displayed so frequently during his past visits to the octagon – even though many will still feel like he’s done enough to get ahead of the fight.

The opening stages at the Etihad Arena on Saturday night saw Yan keep his distance against O’Malley as the opening rallies went mostly without incident.

The Russian backed O’Malley against the cage in a bid to take control, also earning a slam.

But O’Malley found success on the feet as his jab found a home – underlining the awkward proposition he posed with his range advantage.

O’Malley came out swinging in the second round as the fight exploded. Yan sent damage and had a nasty gash open near his right eye, but regrouped and pressed his opponent against the cage in another effort to exert pressure.

O’Malley remained dangerous with his superior reach every time the fight returned to the center of the cage, even as Yan continued to force the pace – but without the kind of fluidity or utter regularity that has so often been his trademark. .

The Russian had more success on the takedown to close out the second round, but it wasn’t the dominance many expected of the former champion heading into the fight against his No. 11 ranked rival.

O’Malley worked his jab to start the third round, keeping Yan at arm’s length. Gradually, ‘Suga’ was enjoying more joy as the fight opened up in the final three minutes.

Yan again leaned against the cage to close out the fight, but O’Malley had also done a smart job throughout the contest.

Bleeding from his right eye, Yan landed with heavy punches to signal the final minute of the fight and finished the contest in first place, but it seemed obvious the scorecards would be tight.

So it turned out, and it was the dismayed Yan who found himself on the wrong side of a split decision that some will find controversial, while others will praise O’Malley for a breakout performance.

UFC President Dana White was among those to tip the colorful O’Malley for a potential superstar with the promotion, and the biggest scalp of his career improved the American’s career record to 16-1, with a no contest.

The 27-year-old could now find himself embroiled in an unlikely bantamweight title shot, with the reigning 135-pound ruler meeting former two-time champion TJ Dillashaw in the co-main event later tonight in Abu Dubai.

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Yan, 29, walked away from the glory he enjoyed winning the bantamweight crown from Brazilian Jose Aldo in Abu Dhabi in July 2020.

Since then, Yan lost his title with a controversial disqualification loss to Sterling, before bouncing back impressively against Cory Sandhagen last October and then losing a decision to Sterling in April.

This latest loss for the Russian will arguably be his most disappointing as he is now desperate to get back to the top of the UFC bantamweight.


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