Petr Yan got back to his winning ways last weekend in Abu Dhabi, capturing a unanimous decision victory over top contender Cory Sandhagen in the UFC 267 co-main event. In the process, “No Mercy” reestablished himself as a dominant force in the 135-pound division.
And took home the interim bantamweight strap.
That means Yan will have an opportunity to unify the division titles against current champion Aljamain Sterling. “No Mercy” lost to “Funk Master” by way of disqualification after landing an illegal knee in their UFC 259 title fight.
Yan, however, is not convinced Sterling will ever return.
“I live inside his head,” Yan told The MMA Hour. “The man who ran away once will always run again. He has a chicken heart, very small. I understand now that it’s a bigger fight and people expect to see it again, even though I already believe I beat him up once. Once I sign the contract, I will be 100 percent focused to do it again. I’m going to hurt him real bad this time.”
Sterling was replaced by Sandhagen after failing to recover in time for UFC 267. “Funk Master” underwent neck surgery earlier this year, prolonging his return, and is not expected to make his Octagon return until first-quarter 2022.
Meanwhile, the promotion will have to keep former champion TJ Dillashaw on the shelf until the title picture sorts itself out. There’s also No. 4-ranked Rob Font to consider, assuming he’s able to get past Jose Aldo in their Dec. 4 showdown on ESPN.
Still lots of moving parts to the 135-pound division ... which I suppose isn’t the worst problem to have.