There was a lot of smack talk going down between Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling leading up to their Bantamweight title fight at UFC 259, much of it taking place on social media. Once the two were face-to-face at the weigh-ins, the talk continued with UFC President, Dana White, keeping one arm deep between the two to avoid a physical altercation.
Then came their fight on March 6, 2021, and it was a hard-fought war that saw Sterling put some serious pressure on Yan, only to find himself tiring out and the Russian getting stronger. By the fourth round it looked like Yan had the fight in hand ... and then the champion did something extremely reckless.
With Sterling grounded on the canvas, Yan threw a huge illegal knee that hit “Funkmaster” flush in the face. After more than one minute of confusion, the fight was ruled a disqualification, and suddenly Sterling was the new 135-pound champion.
It wasn’t the way anyone wanted to see that fight end. Despite what half the Twitter trolls on social media think, it was clear that Sterling was not happy about winning the belt like that.
Immediately after the fight, Yan seemed to take full responsibility for throwing the illegal knee, saying he unleashed it after seeing Sterling’s hands leave the canvas. But in Nevada, any fighter with a knee touching the mat is a downed opponent. So it was his fault, and he paid dearly for the mistake.
Whatever the case, both Sterling and Yan have verbally agreed there will be an immediate rematch, which you’d think would close the chapter on all the ugliness surrounding this unfortunate moment. But, it seems like whatever peace that briefly existed after UFC 259 is already over after Yan started throwing clown emojis around on social media.
Yan is obviously of the opinion that Sterling faked being too injured to continue.
To us, the bigger issue remains the massive illegal knee that Yan admits was a big mistake. None of this would be happening if he hadn’t gotten reckless with one of the only rules that actually gets serious enforcement in mixed martial arts (MMA).
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