Initially, Sterling won the UFC bantamweight title from Yan at UFC 259 in March of 2021. Sterling was hit with an illegal knee from Yan, which rendered Sterling seemingly unable to continue, winning him the title via disqualification.
They finally rematched last month, after Yan had captured an interim bantamweight title, unifying their championships. Sterling wound up taking the contest via split decision.
Speaking to Submission Radio, the former bantamweight champion Dillashaw offered his take on the matchup, as he journeys back to the 135-pound title himself.
Dillashaw pointed out some “big” mistakes made by Yan in the matchup, who he was picking to win the fight head of the event.
“I definitely expected Yan to win… Yan made some big mistakes and showed a lot of holes in his game. It was crazy to me that he could not get out of the body triangle, going in the wrong direction, and pretty much just focusing on not getting finished rather than winning.
“He was playing the long game, which he always does. He did that in the first round, too. He started slow… Aljamain was the only guy who really landed anything.
“Then the next two rounds, we all know what happened, Aljamain was a backpack on him for eight minutes. The only two takedowns he got, Yan gave up his back. Like, you know the guy, his strongest suit in martial arts is him on the back. He’s not a finisher, he’s not dangerous on the feet, so you just can’t let him take your back.
“His coaches were even telling him, ‘Don’t give up your back.’ First thing he did, even after the second round going into the third, right away gave up his back again. (He had) some brain farts on that.”
Dillashaw has ended a two-year suspension for the use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). His return was successful with a split decision win over Cory Sandhagen in July of last year.
Reportedly, Dillashaw is expected to be the next challenger to Sterling’s bantamweight championship at UFC 279 this September. Perhaps this would serve as an opportunity for Dillashaw to show Yan how it’s done.
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