Sterling edged out Yan via split decision in their rematch at UFC 273. Their rematch took more than a year after their first fight ended in disqualification after Yan landed an illegal knee late in the fight.
Similar to their first fight, there was plenty of tension between Yan and Sterling before their UFC 273 matchup. The two went at it on social media for months before finally getting the chance to settle the score in the Octagon.
During a recent interview with Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour, Sterling explained why he doesn’t wish any ill-will toward Yan after their two heated clashes.
“It was never personal in the sense of, ‘Oh my god, I can’t stand this guy’,” Sterling clarified. “I would have a beer with the guy. We would probably be talking shit to each other the entire time, but I think the competitiveness between us is just we just believe that both of us are the best. When you have two guys that believe that, it’s only natural for guys to butt heads.”
Sterling is expected to face former bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw next instead of an immediate trilogy with Yan. Despite the disappointing result, Yan seems motivated to eventually get his belt back and revenge against Sterling.
Sterling vs. Yan was perceived by some to be one of the most heated rivalries in UFC bantamweight history. But according to Sterling, it’s not as personal as many fans have been led to believe.
Would you be surprised if Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan became friends?