Aljamain Sterling ‘Excited’ For Immediate Rematch With Petr Yan

Aljamain Sterling

Despite initially flirting with a possible title run-in against former champion, Henry Cejudo, recently minted bantamweight titleholder, Aljamain Sterling has welcomed the prospect of a rematch with Petr Yan following their controversial UFC 259 title clash on Saturday.

Opening the billing of three title fights at the UFC Apex facility event, Yan attempted his first defence of the bantamweight championship against the number-one ranked Sterling — with tension between the two reaching fever-pitch at Friday’s weigh-ins following a couple of months of traded barbs across their respective social media.

Starting brightly against the defending champion, Sterling outlanded Yan in terms of significant strikes for the opening three rounds, and even scored, as he envisioned, a fight altering takedown, however, Yan displayed some good wrestling defence to stop any other shots from the Uniondale native. Turning up the pressure and increasing his pace from the third round, Yan scored a couple of notable trips and even dropped Sterling with a fierce right hand in the first frame. 

READ MORE:  Sean O'Malley snaps back at UFC 300's Deiveson Figueiredo with homophobic slur

Controversy arose in the fourth round, when Sterling, a grounded fighter was struck with a massive knee from Yan, as he planted both his feet and one of his knees. Falling to his back, Sterling and Yan were separated by referee, Mark Smith who immediately called for a timeout, deeming the strike an illegal shot. 

Detailing to both Sterling and the Octagon-sided physician how he had warned Yan that Sterling was a downed opponent before he threw the knee, Smith classed the strike as an intentional illegal shot, resulting in a disqualification loss for Yan —  with Sterling picking up the undisputed bantamweight championship as a result.

READ MORE:  UFC unveils new sleek 3EIGHT/5EIGHT glove design, set to debut on June 1

Initially taking responsibility for the strike and wishing Sterling a recovery, Yan then took to his official Instagram account, where he labelled Sterling a “clown amid footage that showed Sterling engaging in a stare-down with the above mentioned, Cejudo, as well as posing for pictures and toasting shots with fellow UFC bantamweight and teammate, Merab Dvalishvili. 

Amid claims from fans and even some fighters, that Sterling had made the most of the blow, the longtime Serra-Longo trainee firmly denied that he “milked” the effects of the strikes, asking why he would do that. 

Expected to run-back their bad-blooded matchup in an immediate title rematch, Sterling told how he was “excited” about the possibility of clashing with the Dudinka native once again.

Shame on (Petr) Yan, man,” Sterling said in a recent video on his YouTube channel, FunkMasterMMA. “Like, what did I do wrong? You guys should be blasting that guy for thinking — like, why should he be paraded around like he’s the champ? The guy threw an illegal strike — if anything, he should be disqualified. But there should be a rematch. That’s the best thing I could say.

READ MORE:  Zhang Weili defends title, defeats Chinese compatriot Yan Xiaonan in decision war - UFC 300 Highlights

So the guy knew what he was doing,” Sterling continued. “I think it was intentional as f*ck. And I’m excited for the rematch because I know the adjustments I need to make. I’m going to talk with the UFC PI (performance institute) team, the nutrition team over there, and the strength and conditioning team and try to figure out what the hell happened that day.