At UFC 273, fans will finally witness a rematch over one year in the making. Sterling and current interim titleholder Petr Yan collided at UFC 259 last March. In a bizarre fashion, “Funk Master” left the APEX with gold after being struck by an illegal knee in the fourth round.
Now, after 12 months of back and forth, a canceled title fight at UFC 267, and Yan’s interim crowning, the pair are finally set to take their feud into the Octagon once again. They’ll share the cage in the co-main event of UFC 273 tonight in Jacksonville, Florida.
A portion of the fanbase believes Yan will prove to be too much for Sterling, which appeared to be the case in their previous fight. Some even view “No Mercy” as the ‘real champion’ given how the belt changed hands.
Nevertheless, Sterling does have the loyal support of his teammate and friend, Merab Dvalishvili.
Dvalishvili: Sterling Will Defend His Belt
During a recent interview with The Schmo, Dvalishvili, who has been a big part of Sterling’s training ahead of UFC 273’s blockbuster unification bantamweight showdown, discussed his training partner’s chances.
The Georgian suggested the champion has been and continues to be extremely underrated by fans and pundits. He expects that to change tonight after Sterling reminds them of his talents inside the Octagon by defending his strap for the first time.
“This time, I’m excited for Aljo’s fight. He will defend his belt and he will remind everybody, again, how strong and how good he is,” asserted Dvalishvili. “Some people, a little bit, they forget, and think this other rude guy is better than him. No, he’s gonna show everybody how strong he is.”
Given Yan’s performances in the UFC so far, including a Fight of the Year-worthy display against Cory Sandhagen last October, it’s hard to imagine Sterling being able to keep up with the Russian on the feet.
Perhaps consistent work with an imposing wrestler like “The Machine” Dvalishvili will help Sterling bring a new look and threat to Yan at UFC 273. We’ll find out later tonight at UF 273.
Do you agree with Merab Dvalishvili? Does Aljamain Sterling have what it takes to defeat Petr Yan at UFC 273?