On July 11, Yan fought Jose Aldo for the vacant UFC bantamweight title on the UFC 251 card. Yan captured the gold via fifth-round TKO. Sterling has been itching to get his hands on Yan and the 135-pound gold.
Petr Yan Dubbed ‘Paper Champion’ By Aljamain Sterling
Sterling took to his Twitter account and criticized Yan as a champion. He called Yan a “paper champion” due to not facing a top-five 135-pounder yet.
“Paper Yan is a paper champion. His resume is single ply, too thin to even wipe my ass with it Roll of paper Hasn’t beaten a single guy in the top five. So you know I’m coming on that [ass] no tissues. #PaperYan #PeoplesChampvsPaperChamp #FunkGotNext #TheWeeklyScraps!”
UFC president Dana White hasn’t committed to giving Sterling the next crack at the bantamweight gold. The UFC boss did say that Sterling is at the top of the list. Speculation has run wild on who else could be on White’s mind, but Cody Garbrandt and Marlon Moraes could be safe bets. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto is reporting that Garbrandt is still entertaining the idea of moving down to flyweight, so that could leave just Sterling and Moraes barring a comeback from former champion Henry Cejudo.
Sterling is riding a five-fight winning streak. He’s coming off a quick submission victory over Cory Sandhagen, which many felt would’ve easily given him the next bantamweight title shot. In addition to his winning streak, “The Funkmaster” has gone 7-1 in his last eight outings.
As for Yan, he’s won 10 bouts in a row. The newly minted UFC bantamweight champion hasn’t suffered a loss since March 2016. It’s the lone defeat of Yan’s pro MMA career.