Friday, May 27, 2022

Sterling Reveals Exactly How He’ll Neutralize Petr Yan’s Striking

Aljamain Sterling has a plan to keep Petr Yan from implementing his gameplan in their upcoming rematch at UFC 273.

Just over a year since the duo squared off at UFC 259, Sterling and Yan will finally meet to unify the UFC bantamweight title on April 9 in Jacksonville, Florida. The rematch is one of the most hotly anticipated in recent UFC history, given the controversial ending to the first bout and the buildup of tensions between Sterling and Yan since.

At UFC 259, Yan was on track to defend his title before he landed an illegal knee that gifted the bantamweight crown to Sterling. The “Funk Master” drew heavy criticism for the manner in which he celebrated the win, with many deeming him an unworthy champion.

A difficult recovery from neck surgery would prevent Sterling from facing Yan at UFC 267 and proving the doubters wrong. But now, the 32-year-old New Yorker is on the cusp of finally cementing his place atop the bantamweight division, and he earnestly believes he has the tools to frustrate interim champ Yan.

Petr Yan Aljamain Sterling
Petr Yan, Aljamain Sterling. Credit: Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Sterling Explains How He Will “Mix It Up” Against Yan

Time and time again, Yan has shown that he’s one of, if not the best boxer in the UFC. His sound defensive skills and crisp striking were on full display during his last bout with Cory Sandhagen, and many expect the 29-year-old to soundly outclass Sterling on the feet.

Aljamain, however, has told Yahoo! Sports that he’s going into their rematch with a plan to neutralize Yan’s striking and keep the Russian guessing.

“I think the main thing that I have to neutralize, if I’m being transparent, is not letting the guy set the tone of the fight,” said Sterling. “I think I do a very good job of that with my pressure and my pace going forward, blending in the takedown. Even if I don’t get it, people don’t understand; there’s an art to getting a takedown, there’s an art to fighting. It’s not just that I’m only going to shoot if it’s a clean takedown. Sometimes you need to break up the tempo, switch the momentum and stifle a guy against the cage, or stifle him in the clinch and just kind of freeze the action. And when you freeze the action, you look for other openings, you wear on them, you make your opponent think twice about just coming forward recklessly, and that changes the outcome of the fight.”

Sterling says that while he respects Yan’s striking, the key to victory will be mixing it up and ensuring he’s not a stationary target.

“That’s why it’s called mixed martial arts; you have to mix it up, you can’t just be doing the same thing that’s predictable,” continued Sterling. “Everyone can throw a one, two, three combination like Petr Yan and look brilliant. You know, he’s got fast hands, he’s got good power, but you can only do that to guys just standing right there in front of you. If you’re a moving target, you’re level changing, you ain’t throwing that one, two, three like that, because you’re going to have to respect the level change and the takedowns.”

What do you think? Will Aljamain Sterling successfully neutralize the crisp striking of Petr Yan at UFC 273??

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