We’re days away from the big UFC 280 card in Abu Dhabi, which not only features two big title fights but could also decide who fights for those same titles next.
The vacant UFC lightweight title is being fought for between Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev, with featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski serving as backup and calling dibs on next. The UFC bantamweight title is being defended by Aljamain Sterling, who takes on T.J. Dillashaw. Immediately before that bout, 135ers Petr Yan and Sean O’Malley will compete in a fight many consider a number one contenders match.
But has Dana White actually confirmed that Volkanovski or the winner of Yan vs. O’Malley lock up a title shot with wins?
In a new interview on My Mom’s Basement podcast, Robbie Fox asked White about the title implications surrounding UFC 280. White stopped short of declaring anyone would get a shot at the belts (see below via Twitter).
“We’ve heard that Alexander Volkanovski is the backup for this one,” Fox said. “Does that mean he’s going to get the next title shot at that weight class, necessarily?”
“Well … it makes sense,” White said, glancing up at the whiteboards in his office containing future event plans. “Yeah, makes sense.”
— Robbie Fox (@RobbieBarstool) October 17, 2022
Those familiar with Dana White’s post-fight press conference interviews know that he often says something ‘makes sense’ when he doesn’t want to lock himself into a definite answer. There’s plenty of times where White goes on the records saying ‘the winner of x fight will get a title shot,’ and there’s no pussyfooting around.
Fox also said that Dana White confirmed the winner of Petr Yan vs. Sean O’Malley would get a bantamweight title shot. But nowhere in his answer did White directly say that.
“Petr Yan vs. Sean O’Malley is another one I want to touch on,” Fox said. “The bantamweight division is so stacked and there’s so many contenders in that division. But do you see the winner of this getting a title shot based on … not only their reputation but their name value as well? obviously everyone’s talking about this one as well.”
“What fight is that?” White replied. “You f***ed me up on that one. Who are the guys you’re talking about?”
“Sean O’Malley and Yan,” Fox clarified.
“Oh yeah, yeah, of course,” White said. “Yeah, this is one of those fights where Petr Yan is the number one ranked guy in the world, O’Malley is 27 years old, he’s 15-1. He’s got the experience for this fight, he’s got the height and reach advantage, he’s got knockout power, he’s got all the tools to win this fight, he’s just got to go out there and do it.”
“And it’s no easy task, Petr Yan is an absolute savage,” White continued. “But there was this comparison recently where Sean O’Malley said ‘I would love to be the next Conor McGregor and be the next global superstar.’ Well, it’s about winning key fights. He’s already got that thing that people like about him. Now it’s about winning key fights. This fight for him is like Conor’s Jose Aldo fight.”
That was the entire exchange between White and Fox regarding the Yan vs. O’Malley fight. Did White confirm a title shot for the winner? Or did Dana White just start his sentence with the word ‘Yeah.’ We aren’t going to tell you how to interpret these interactions, but it’s worth mentioning that the UFC president isn’t beating a drum and hyping the fights by highlighting the explicit title shots that are coming after UFC 280.
What do you think, PENN Nation? Does that sound like a guarantee from Dana White that Alexander Volkanovski is getting a title shot? How about the winner of Petr Yan vs. Sean O’Malley? Let us know in the comments.