International mixed martial arts (MMA) fights mean international fighters, and UFC Fight Night 132 this Saturday morning (June 23, 2018) in Singapore is no different. Before Leon Edwards and Donald Cerrone go to war in the main event, a bevy of up-and-coming Asian and European prospects will look to prove their mettle in the Octagon. Just one is doing it for the first time, but the quality blows the quantity out of the water. Petr Yan — a man with a legitimate claim to being Russia’s No. 1 Bantamweight — helms the featured “Prelims” undercard bout against Teruto Ishihara.
The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): “Latin America” 2 competitor Hector Aldana is technically also debuting three years after the show, but I can sum up my thoughts on his brief career in one very short paragraph: Heavy hands, decent boxing, non-existent takedown defense and is probably going to get demolished by Song Kenan.
So let’s just skip to the good part:
Name: Petr “No Mercy” Yan
Weight Class: Bantamweight
Record: 8-1 (3 KO, 1 SUB)
Notable Victories: Murad Kalamov, Magomed Magomedov, Matheus Mattos
Yan is a product of the same Tiger Muay Thai camp that gave us Mairbek Taisumov, Ben Nguyen and the Shevchenko sisters. His only professional MMA loss was a controversial decision against fellow top prospect Magomed Magomedov that he later avenged to earn the ACB Bantamweight title, which he defended with a brutal finish of TUF: “Brazil” 4 competitor Matheus Mattos.
If you can’t tell, he’s kind of a Big Deal™.
The core of Yan’s game is short-range Muay Thai built on crisp switch-hitting boxing. Once he’s forced his way inside, he’s adept at locking up the Thai clinch and digging in knees before separating with elbows from a variety of angles. He’s got solid, if not Earth-shattering power and knows how to turn up the heat when he smells blood.
Though he’s a striker by trade, it’s his ground game that most impresses me. It’s incredibly deep and only getting deeper. Think about Mirko Cro Cop: He had a truly spectacular sprawl, but he didn’t have a Plan B when that failed. Yan, by contrast, has unbelievable hips, capable of defending every variety of takedown while threatening with his own double-leg and tricky foot sweep. Off of his back, he can both scramble up and threaten with a triangle series depending on the situation
That grappling is improving at a terrific rate, too. He lost that first fight to Magomedov because of the time he spent on his back. I don’t think Magomedov spent more than 10 seconds on top of him in the rematch one year later, while Yan ragdolled him more than once.
For all that overflowing potential, Yan has two key issues that could debilitating should they remain unchecked. One is defense — Yan is a direct, come-forward striker who absorbs a lot of the punches coming his way. This may not be something he can really fix considering how aggressive he is.
The other problem is a little more complicated. Yan has a preferred range, which is totally fine, but outside that range he’s extremely passive. He doesn’t really have a way to get to the inside besides walking down his opponent and — like fellow Russian slugger Ruslan Provodnikov — he doesn’t walk through incoming fire. He kinda just takes it, throws a counter sometimes, and then goes back to walking forward.
He needs to learn to do more at range and develop a good slip, otherwise he’s going to get outworked by more mobile strikers.
Opponent: Teruto Ishihara, the wonderfully charismatic, wonderfully entertaining, wonderfully flawed slugger. Yan is levels above him in cardio, boxing, wrestling and submissions, but his lack of activity and iffy defense mean this could go very, very wrong for Yan if he doesn’t keep his hands up.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 132 fight card this weekend, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 4:30 a.m. ET, followed by the main card start time of 8 a.m. ET, also on Fight Pass.