UFC bantamweight champion, Aljamain Sterling has claimed that the only tears he will shed against arch-enemy and interim champion, Petr Yan at UFC 273 next month – will be when he “body bags” the Dudinka native in their title unification re-run.

Sterling, who attempts to successfully unify the bantamweight titles on April 9. in the co-main event of UFC 273, also attempts to shut the proverbial door on a longstanding rivalry with the Russian technician. 

Becoming the first champion in promotional history to lift an Octagon title via disqualification, Sterling was met with a fourth round illegal knee by Yan whilst he was deemed to b a grounded opponent during their initial matchup at UFC 259 last March.

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The disqualification defeat to Aljamain Sterling came as Petr Yan’s first UFC loss since his transition to the Octagon

In the time since, Sterling has undergone invasive surgery to address a neck injury stemming from his amateur wrestling days – failing to obtain medical clearance to compete at UFC 267 in October as a result of a surgical procedure.

As a result, a ‘Fight Island’ title rematch with Yan was shelved, with the Dudinka native instead tackling and overcoming common-foe, Cory Sandhagen on short notice at the event to mint himself as the interim division champion in Sterling’s absence.

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In the run-up to the pair’s title merger on April 9. – Sterling and Yan had traded multiple barbs on social media, only fueled by the former this evening, resulting in another back-and-forth between the rivals.

“In order to grow you need to accept your losses oike a man,” Aljamain Sterling tweeted, accompanied by a gif of Petr Yan. “The first step of the process of healing is accepting your short-comings. In other words, bro, you lost.”

Garnering a response from Yan, the Russian striking ace claimed that he would “beat the living sh*t” out of Sterling at UFC 273. 

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“At least I didn’t lose my dignity like you,” Petr Yan tweeted. “I can envision yourself crying after our next fight again. I will beat the living sh*t out of you dog. Looking forward to your healing process.”

Sterling then replied to Yan’s own response, claiming that he would only be shedding tears at Yan’s “funeral” at UFC 273, claiming he would leave the interim titleholder in a “body bag”.

“The only years I’ll be shedding are for your funeral, after I body bag you April 9th for the world to see,” Aljamain Sterling tweeted. “You ‘Betr’ show up!”

Aspiring mixed martial arts reporter based in Ireland. Follow along at @Ross_Markey on Twitter for all the latest news, fight announcements, opinion, and feature pieces.