The only fight to make for Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan is a rematch between the two bantamweights after their initial clash last weekend at UFC 259 (highlights HERE).
In that fight, Yan landed an illegal knee to a downed Sterling in the fourth round and “Funk Master” was unable to continue. Yan was disqualified and Sterling walked away with the undisputed UFC bantamweight championship. It’s not the way you want to see a thriving champion like Yan lose his title, but the knee was illegal.
That said, all signs seem to point to an immediate rematch between the two bantamweights. Yan is on board, UFC president Dana White is on board, and the fans need closure after what transpired earlier this month. Sterling, who was losing the fight on the scorecards before the knee landed, seemed ready to book his rematch with Yan after their meeting at UFC 259.
Now, we really don’t know what to expect from the top of the 135-pound division. Yan obviously wants his rematch and rightfully so, but Sterling seems to be changing his tune every chance he gets.
“One time he says one thing, different time he says different thing.” Yan told ESPN. “Then, the staredown with Cejudo. Everything tells me he doesn’t want to fight me again. He understands he lost this fight, he understand it’s going to happen again. I feel like he doesn’t want to fight me again.”
Yan, who had his 10-fight win streak snapped at UFC 259, is referencing the below social media post by Sterling that suggests “Funk Master” wants to fight former UFC double champ Henry Cejudo next.
Aljamain Sterling offers to fight a former bantamweight champion, but it's not Petr Yan— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) March 8, 2021
(via @funkmasterMMA) pic.twitter.com/hfrODqhJRQ
“UFC already reached out to me and asked when I’m ready to fight again.” said Yan. “I already told them I’m ready, one month, two months time. Whenever they want to do it. Like I said I before, I was punished already for what I did. I already lost the belt and the PPV points and whatever comes with becoming a champion.
“Everything happened because the referee told the commission that it was intentional. But I didn’t throw it intentional. Now, the rematch is the only logic thing. The rematch has to happen next.”
Yan, who is now 7-1 since joining UFC back in 2018, is also eyeing a potential showdown with Cejudo after locking down his rematch with “Funk Master.” The former Russian champion has looked nearly unstoppable over the past few years and could give Cejudo a run for his money if “Triple C” decides to come out of retirement.
“As you remember, when I became [the] #1 contender for the belt is the time when Cejudo retired,” Yan added. “And now, the first day when I lost the belt, Cejudo started talking about coming back. He doesn’t want to fight me. For me, now the goal is to get the rematch and Cejudo can be next after that.”
What do you think? Will Yan get his rematch with Sterling? Can he win back his title and book a matchup with Cejudo?