After “Sugar” Sean O’Malley’s split decision victory over Petr Yan in UFC 280 his ascension in the ranks has come into question. Sean O’Malley’s UFC ranking is currently No.1 in the Bantamweight division.
One criticism that critics always had on Sean O’Malley was the strength of his opponents. Prior to the Petr Yan fight, O’Malley was 15-1 with 11 KO victories. Most of these fights weren’t even close as it was clear Sugar was on a different level.
Even as he accumulated highlight KO after highlight KO, his rank never really went up as everyone expected him to take his opponents out early. This caused O’Malley to take in the title of “unranked champ”.
Even Dana White said “He’s not ready” prior to the Petr Yan fight being scheduled. O’Malley’s only loss in his career comes to Marlon Vera in which he claims he lost due to an injury. Vera was the only ranked fighter O’Malley fought prior to a no-contest between O’Malley and Pedro Munhoz. This means O’Malley’s record versus ranked opponents was 0-1-1.
After the Munhoz no-contest, Sean O’Malley was scheduled to fight the No.1 contender and former bantamweight champion Petr Yan. And most were very skeptical on O’Malley’s chances.
O’Malley outstruck the former champ 84-58 in significant strikes which led him to a controversial split-decision victory. Many fans and fighters are disputing the decision due to Yan’s six takedowns. But nonetheless, Sugar has since surged the rankings as the No.1 ranked contender and is on the verge of a title shot.
No. 1 Contender?
After the split decision victory, O’Malley’s rank surged from No.11 to No.1. He surpassed proven fighters such as Cory Sandhagen, T.J. Dillashaw and Merab Dvalishvili. This surprised many as these fighters have very strong resumes and have been in the title discussion for some time now.
O’Malley’s social following may have been a factor on the rankings as twitter absolutely blew up when the fan favorite took out his rival Petr Yan.
There is no doubt O’Malley deserved a big jump in the rankings after defeating Petr Yan. But a spot between 3-5 would be more realistic for a fighter of his resume. But then there is the argument, to be the best you have to beat the best and that is what Sugar did in UFC 280.
All of the hate on his rankings may go to rest soon as if what Dana White said is truthful O’Malley will fight for the belt sooner rather than later.
Aljamain Sterling is currently the bantamweight champion and presumable O’Malley’s next opponent. He is a dangerous matchup for O’Malley as he is known for his crippling back control and Jiu-Jitsu. If Sugar were to become champion he would have to keep him on his feet.
Furthermore, many have been comparing O’Malley’s run to Conor McGregor’s historic run. And if O’Malley wins the belt the UFC has found its new poster child.
What do you think Sean O’Malley’s UFC ranking should be?