Former UFC Bantamweight Champion Petr Yan doesn’t believe his upcoming opponent Cory Sandhagen is better than him in any aspect of MMA.
Yan will be competing for the Interim UFC Bantamweight Championship against Sandhagen in the UFC 267 co-main event this weekend. “No Mercy” was originally scheduled to face current champ Aljamain Sterling at Saturday’s event. “Funk Master” dethroned Yan earlier this year at UFC 259. After the Russian landed an illegal knee, Sterling became the first champion in UFC history to be crowned via disqualification.
Having spent time on the sidelines recovering from neck surgery, Sterling was slated to run it back with Yan for his first title defense. However, towards the end of last month, he was forced to withdraw after failing to receive medical clearance due to the lingering issues he’s suffering from in the aftermath of his operation.
With T.J. Dillashaw recovering form his own surgery, and Rob Font having only recently overcome a bout of COVID-19, Sandhagen stepped up on short notice to meet Yan in Abu Dhabi on October 30. The first of two UFC 267 title bouts will mark a rare occasion where two fighters are competing for gold off the back of losses.
Yan Believes He Can Outclass Sandhagen In Every Aspect Of MMA
Despite missing out on the chance to exact revenge on Sterling and reclaim the undisputed strap, Yan’s goals are the same; enter the cage at UFC 267, defeat his opponent, and leave with gold.
Even with the opponent change, “No Mercy” doesn’t see the fight going any differently, even with the striking challenges “The Sandman” presents. Speaking during a recent appearance on The MMA Hour, Yan suggested that even in Sandhagen’s strongest areas, he is better than the Colorado native.
“He’s a very good and versatile fighter, he’s good everywhere. But in every aspect that he’s good at, I’m better than him. In wrestling or striking, I am ready to surprise him.”
With that superiority in mind, Yan added that he’ll be looking for an early finish come October 30, something he believes his style lends itself to.
“I hope it’s gonna be early finish… You know, my style is always go there and look for the finish, and I don’t think he’s the one who can drag me to deep waters. I’m the one who can drag him into deep waters.”
He may not be facing the champion inside the Etihad Arena, but Sandhagen will certainly be no walk in the park for Yan. The 29-year-old has made a quick surge towards the top of the division, and has done so with some electrifying highlight-reel finishes. He will go into the interim title fight as the underdog, but only a fool would count “The Sandman” out.
Who do you think will leave the Octagon with the interim gold at UFC 267, Petr Yan or Cory Sandhagen?