It seems like an eternity ago that Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan began their rivalry. But what actually started it?
Petr had been unbeaten in MMA since suffering his first loss to Magomed Magomedov back in 2016. “Aljo” had been on a tear through some top-ranked talent, including Cody Stamann, Pedro Munhoz, and an 88 second rear-naked choke over Cory Sandhagen. Even before the bout, the pair were taking shots at one another.
The first bout between the pair was a featured bout on the historic UFC 259. The bout itself proved historic, as it was the first time a championship changed hands via disqualification. Petr Yan landed a devastating (and highly illegal) knee to a grounded Sterling. Yan was up on two judge’s scorecards and was well on his way to a 10-8 in R4.
He Said This, He Said That!
However, the hostility began in earnest when footage of Aljamain Sterling celebrating later that night emerged from family members’ socials. Over the following several months, many felt that we were building to a rematch for the ages at UFC 267. However, only eight weeks out from the event, Sterling was forced to pull from the bout, due to an ongoing neck injury. Yan fell in love with MMATwitter as they flocked to every mocking Tweet about Sterling.
This led to significant escalation on Petr Yan’s part, as he felt Sterling was running from him, and was unwilling to face him without a home-side advantage. Yan went on to defeat Cory Sandhagen in definitive fashion, to become Interim Champ.
Meanwhile, Sterling was recovering (and trolling Petr online) and the unification bout booked for UFC 272. However, it wasn’t all plain sailing, as UFC 272 fell apart shortly afterwards, and the bout was moved to UFC 273.
One Reason Or Another…
However, the pair couldn’t even agree on WHY their unification bout was being pushed to April instead of headlining UFC 272. Sterling alleged that Yan was having vaccination-related visa issues on his podcast. On the other hand, Yan claimed that it was because the UFC did not want a “fake champion” headlining.
During fight week, Aljamain even dropped “MMA Rules for Dummies“, offering Petr examples of illegal strikes ahead of their bout. The two simply couldn’t get the other out of their mouth for the better part of eighteen months.
As if this wasn’t bad enough, when it came time for the pair to finally settling things at UFC 273, it ended in split decision. Dana White said after the bout that the judges had “blown” the decision. This was not helped when Aljamain asked haters for apologies and money after the win.
“Squash Beef, Ass Whoop, Give Names”
Aljamain would spend the next several months bargaining for more money with the UFC to fight TJ Dillashaw. Dillashaw (and his past PED usage) has become the newest subject for Sterling’s ire. The distance seems to have given Petr and Aljamain the opportunity to broker peace and put them in a place where they can squash their beef, at least for the next two weeks.
After arriving in Abu Dhabi yesterday ahead of his bout against Dillashaw, Aljamain and Petr ran into each other at the fighter hotel. The pair seemed appear to have officially squashed their beef in the footage posted by Aljo. In addition, he even called for a less hostile trilogy bout if both men win next week.
What do you think? Are the pair playing nice for the cameras, or have they moved past their beef onto their new opponents?