On Saturday night three fierce Champions put their UFC gold on the line at UFC 259. One of those titles up for grabs is the 135 Bantamweight strap when Petr Yan collides with Aljamain Sterling as the Octagon lands back at the UFC Apex in the vibrant city of Las Vegas.
This fight will be the Russian’s first title defense after securing the strap at UFC 251 in July 2020. On the stacked PPV event, which was headlined by welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, Yan had the ever so tough task of defeating the former UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo.
After a long 4 rounds, Yan dropped the Brazilian after just 15 seconds of the 5th and final round. After Aldo absorbed some brutal ground and pound, Yan swooped in for the kill and reigned down with even more ground strikes from every angle. After over 3 minutes of domination, referee Leon Roberts called a stop to the action which crowned Petr Yan the UFC undisputed bantamweight champion.
The 28-year-olds rise to the top has been nothing short of magnificent due to how rapidly he became champion. Yan was signed by the UFC in 2018 after defending his bantamweight belt at Absolute Championship Berkut.
Despite losing his first-ever professional fight to Magomed Magomedov in 2016, Yan used this loss as motivation to string together a 10-fight winning streak which includes wins over the likes of John Dodson, Jimmie Rivera, Uriah Faber, and Jose Aldo.
Although these guys are all top-level competitors, many fight fans around the world believe that they were all past their sell-by-date at the time. This Saturday at UFC 259, Yan faces his toughest challenge yet as the number 1 bantamweight contender Aljamain Sterling looks to dethrone the 135lbs king.
Aljamain Sterling comes into this championship contest on blazing hot form with a 5-fight win streak against the bantamweight’s elite. The Jamaican-born product holds victories over Brett Johns, Cody Stamann, Jimmie Rivera, Pedro Munhoz, and most recently Cory Sandhagen.
In the lead-up to his bout with Sandhagen, many fans around the world thought it would be a long contest. However, on the night, Sterling put in the performance of a lifetime by submitting his opponent via rear-naked choke after just 1 minute and 28 seconds of the very first round.
In his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, Aljamain Sterling called for a UFC bantamweight title shot while creating a clip that was golden for promos. In the interview Sterling stated:
“I’m tired of all this hype sh*t, talking about Petr Yan is the greatest guy and you better win your fight because I’m coming on you’re a**. Pause”
On Saturday night when the two men stand opposite each other in the Octagon, I believe that Sterling will look to utilize his brutal kicking game which has caused many of his opponents to buckle and then go in for a takedown.
With a 4-inch reach advantage, Sterling has every chance of fighting on the outside. With the significant reach, Yan may force a striking exchange which may lead to an opening takedown from Sterling.
With quite possibly one of the best rear-naked chokes in the sport, Sterling is one of the biggest threats that the champion could face.
Being trained by Matt Serra and Ray Longo at Serra – Longo in Long Island New York, his ground game is as skilled as you could imagine. A big key to victory would be to take Yan to the canvas to overwhelm him and then earn the submission victory.
However, Yan will look to stay inside the pocket and trade haymakers. If Yan can counter back on those terrifying leg kicks, the Russian’s night may be a lot shorter than expected.
With 7 out of 15 of Yans wins being via KO/TKO, Sterling may feel rather uncomfortable to trade with the ever so dangerous champion.
Ultimately there can only be one winner on the night and only one man can take the UFC gold home and I do believe that Sterling will scrape to a very close decision win and a new bantamweight champion will be crowned.
Fight Prediction: Sterling via Decision