Before Sterling defended his belt for a second time, “Sugar” Sean O’Malley finally joined the ranks of the bantamweight elite against Sterling’s old foe: Petr Yan.
The fight was considered a huge step up in competition for the Dana White’s Contender Series alumnus, but O’Malley quickly proved he belonged with the best in the weight class as he and Yan went back and forth for 15 minutes. Although O’Malley rocking and cutting Yan was impressive, even more so was his recovery after Yan clocked him with some of his best shots, as well. It was the first time we saw O’Malley’s championship resolve, and this would be his final fight before taking the belt from Sterling about a year later.
Future Contenders Turn In Statement Wins
Beneil Dariush, Manon Fiorot and Belal Muhammad each turned in crucial performances for their personal pursuits of a UFC title, taking out Mateusz Gamrot, Katlyn Chookagian and Sean Brady, respectively. Dariush earned himself a No. 1 contender fight against Oliveira, which he would fall short in a few months later in Vancouver. Meanwhile, Fiorot and Muhammad find themselves on the precipice of title shots after picking up another win since their victories in Abu Dhabi.