The Russian champion and Sterling went back and forth in a thrilling war. After a devastating illegal knee to Sterling while he was clearly grounded, referee Mark Smith determined that the foul was indeed intentional. The ending was anti-climactic, as the challenger Sterling flung the belt onto the ground right after UFC president Dana White wrapped it around his waist. Following the loss of his bantamweight belt, Petr Yan clarified his side of the story.
“Before the fight, the referee was paying a lot of attention about the hand position when the fighter is grounded or not. Petr Yan explained to reporters with the help of an interpreter at the post-fight press conference. I was too focused on his hands, and I forgot about his legs. Obviously I didn’t mean to do an illegal shot.”
In fact, the former champion thought initially that his actions were covered within the rules but later realized that it was a mistake after the fight.
“No, I didn’t realize that,” Yan said. “For a while, I thought that I did everything right and didn’t think he was downed.”
Petr Yan Hopes To Have Immediate Rematch With Sterling
Overall, both athletes acknowledged a hint of illegitimacy surrounding the bantamweight title now. The good news is that the former champion Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling seem eager to run it back. After all, while Yan may have been up on the scorecards, the Serra-Longo product was definitely putting on a close fight. However, Yan truly believes Sterling did not want to earn the belt in the manner that occurred.
“It sucks, and I think him as a fighter he also don’t want to accept the belt this way,” Petr Yan said. “And if he’s going to be healthy, hopefully we have the rematch soon.”
At the post-fight press conference, even White acknowledged the urgency to run this bantamweight title fight back. However, with T.J. Dillashaw and other contenders lurking in the shadows, perhaps a different plan could emerge. But there is without a doubt unfinished business between Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling.
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