clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

UFC 273 results: Aljamain Sterling pulls off upset, unifies Bantamweight belt with split decision over Petr Yan

Second verse, different than the first.

There was little chance that former Bantamweight champion (and current interim kingpin), Petr Yan, would make the same mistake twice in the span of one year when he locked horns with Aljamain Sterling in UFC 273’s pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event tonight (Sat., April 9, 2022) from inside Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. Back at UFC 259, Yan appeared to be coasting toward victory until he landed a boneheaded illegal knee to a downed Sterling, who was unable to continue and was eventually awarded the 135-pound title via disqualification.

The pair was supposed to run it back immediately, but injuries to “Funkmaster” delayed the rematch until this evening, with “No Mercy” picking up the interim strap in the interim with a five-round drubbing of Cory Sandhagen in Oct. 2021.

So Sterling more or less was out to prove he deserved the belt, while Yan was out to exact revenge and prove their first encounter was just a dumb fluke. And, in the end, Sterling got the last laugh, toughing out a gritty split decision win after 25 minutes of action.

LIVE! Watch UFC 281 PPV On ESPN+ Here!

CHAMPIONSHIP DOUBLE-DIP! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to “The Fight Mecca,” Madison Square Garden in New York, N.Y., on Sat., Nov. 12, 2022, featuring two highly-anticipated championship showdowns. In UFC 281’s pay-per-view (PPV) main event, Middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya, will look to settle the score with former kickboxing foe and No. 5-seeded contender, Alex Pereira. In the ESPN+-streamed PPV co-main event, women’s Strawweight champion, Carla Esparza, intends to defend her newly-won title for the first time against former champion and No. 2-ranked contender, Zhang Weili.

Don’t miss a single second of EPIC face-punching action!

Sterling opened up the action with a kick to the Russian’s bread box. Yan remained robotic, inching forward, looking to unleash some furious combinations. Sterling dove for an early takedown, but Yan defended with a tight sprawl. Front kick from Sterling as Yan didn’t really throw a strike two minutes into the opening frame. Kick from Sterling, with a left hook counter from Yan. Another front kick from Sterling as Yan tried to corner him against the cage. Kick from Yan, putting Sterling back on his bicycle. Yan switched to Southpaw, partially landing an overhand left. Yan missed with a big left, then tried to catch him on his way up, but missed again. He scored with a left hand moments later, while Sterling fired back with a hard kick. Yan doubled up a left jab, with Sterling circling out as fast as he could. Sterling dove for a single as the seconds melted off the clock, with the pair exchanging shots at the buzzer. Weird round, certainly hard to score.

Kick from Yan starts the second stanza, with Sterling still circling. Another hard body kick from Yan, who continues to switch stances. Front kick from Sterling, who tried to use it to set up a takedown. It didn’t work, bet he kept at it and was able to land on top of Yan. H e quickly maneuvered to his back, locking up a body triangle. Yan fought the hands well, but there was a long three minutes on the clock. Sterling tried to soften him up with shots from underneath, while Yan was hitting him with backward punches. Sterling maintained wrist control throughout, not really doing much to try and get under his chin. Then, 90- seconds in, he started to pound Yan with shots and sunk in a choke. Yan rolled to his belly to avoid the shots, then ended up on his side as “Funkmaster” rained down short shots. Sterling rolled to his back with 30 seconds to go, with Yan defending well despite getting his ears boxed repeatedly from behind. Huge round for Sterling.

The pair exchange hard kicks in the center of the Octagon to start the third round. More hard kicks from Yan as Sterling continued to just circle. He dove in for another single-leg takedown, but Yan sprawled well. On the break, Sterling hit him with a left hand that appeared to bother Yan, then went ahead and secured another takedown ... and immediate back control once again with three minutes remaining in the round. Sterling locked up the body triangle along the cage, with Yan fighting the hands furiously. Yan covered up and rolled to his side, with the crowd voicing its collective displeasure to the grappling match that has unfolded. Yan was almost flattened out, but rolled around until he was back on his back with Sterling trying to slip his forearm under his throat. And that’s how it ended, just like the second.

Championship rounds and it was clear that Yan had to take them both — who knows who the judges awarded the first to. Yan came out winging shots, backing Sterling to the cage and drilling him with a knee to the midsection as he got back to his feet. Yan continued to chase, with Sterling diving on the floor, looking to hide from the incoming punches. He got back to his feet and Yan nailed him with a nice jumping knee, with both fighters trading shots upstairs on the break. Sterling jumped on his back real quick, but Yan dumped him off. He tried to throw up a triangle, but Yan was able to break through his legs and settle in full guard. Sterling pulled his head in to his chest so Yan couldn’t create any space ... his only real option to pepper him with rabbit punches to either side of the body. Yan got back to his feet momentarily and kneed him in the side, with Sterling rolling back to the canvas as the round came to a close.

Fifth and final frame, and it could be even on the judges scorecards. Yan knocked him off his feet with a low kick out of the gate, with Sterling going for a takedown on the next exchange, ending up on his knee as Yan stepped out. Nice left hand from Yan, with Sterling countering with a kick. Sterling dove in again, but Yan posted well, able to remain on his feet and inch his way toward the fence. He spun out and hit Sterling with an uppercut, then an elbow as he dove in for yet another takedown. Lazy takedown attempt from Sterling, who got drilled with a knee, then a left hand, as Sterling flailed on the canvas. He turtled up and Yan jumped on his back, but was free moments later. Sterling continued to spam takedowns, but Yan was able to out-wrestle him down the stretch getting to his back and controlling the grappling. Yan actually ended up attempting a rear-naked choke that wasn’t ever going to amount to anything as the fight finally came to a close.

It was a super close fight.

Sterling implemented a much smarter gameplan than the first encounter — keeping his distance, circling like a mad man and implementing his superior jiu-jitsu game. It wasn’t a great fight, but he did what he had to do to get the win. And after the way the first match went down — and the year-long torment he had to endure about being a “fake” champion — kudos to Sterling for pulling off the upset.

Something tells me, though, it’s not the last time he will see Petr Yan inside the Octagon.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 273: “Volkanovski vs. Korean Zombie” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Mania Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Mania