After Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President, Dana White, confirmed the booking of a Featherweight championship trilogy fight between Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway as the UFC 272 headliner, he confirmed another title fight as the co-main event.
Indeed, Aljamain Sterling will defend his UFC Bantamweight title against former champion, Petr Yan, in the co-headlining act on March 5, 2022, inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
ESPN’s Brett Okamoto delivered the scoop:
This one’s a long time coming. UFC 272, March 5, per Dana White. Champ, Aljamain Sterling (@funkmasterMMA) vs. Interim Champ, Petr Yan (@PetrYanUFC). Can’t ask for more of a backstory than this going into a title rematch. Redemption for Yan. Chance to shut soooo many up for Aljo. pic.twitter.com/oO1gjF3ZJJ— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) January 5, 2022
The two men have a bitter rivalry stemming from the wacky result of their first title fight at UFC 259 in March 2021. Yan was disqualified from the contest because of an “intentional foul” after tagging Sterling with an illegal knee to the head (see it here).
Naturally, the loss didn’t sit too well with Yan, who went on to accuse Sterling of playing up the effects of the knee to get out of the fight — which Aljamain was losing up to that point — and win the belt. For his part, Sterling wasn’t initially all that thrilled to win the title in that manner, but after Yan went on his crusade of labeling him fake, “Funkmaster” followed suit by dubbing him a cheater and accepted the belt in all its glory.
The two were in talks to throw down in an instant rematch, but it was ultimately delayed thanks to nagging injuries that Sterling had to give time to heal. Yan went on to defeat Cory Sandhagen at UFC 267 on “Fight Island” three months ago to win the interim belt and secure his rematch against the champ.
Now, the Russian striker looks to unify the titles to once again become the undisputed champion. As for Sterling, he would love nothing more than to score a more convincing victory in the rematch to prove his doubters wrong ... Yan included.
You know the players, care to offer up a prediction or three?