The only title that changed hands last night at UFC 259 was the bantamweight title. Former champion, Petr Yan (15-2) was disqualified in the fourth round and Aljamain Sterling (20-3) became the UFC bantamweight champion.
It was the first time in the history of the promotion that a title has changed hands due to a disqualification. In the first round, Sterling was smothering with his pressure on Yan. However, Yan landed a massive shot and dropped Sterling late in the first.
From that moment on, Petr Yan seemed to be in complete control at UFC 259. At least, that’s what I was seeing. In the fourth round, Aljamain Sterling was clearly starting to break. Yan was doing some serious damage and you got the feeling that the fight wouldn’t last much longer.
Late in the fourth round, Sterling went for a sloppy takedown. Yan pushed Sterling’s head straight to the mat and Sterling stayed low to avoid a knee to the head. Yan looked over to his corner for advice and one of his cornermen said he was good to throw a knee.
The former UFC champion threw a huge knee that landed flush on Sterling. Sterling was hurt badly and after a few minutes, the referee called a stop to the action. Because the ref had warned Yan a little before the knee, the fight was ruled a DQ due to the intentional knee.
Dana White was asked in the post-fight press conference what the plan was. He stated that the UFC matchmakers are going to meet on Tuesday and they will get the rematch between the two men booked as soon as possible.
White also acknowledged that he believed Yan was well on his way to winning the fight. However, the decision to knee was baffling to him. Sterling was cleared at the hospital and Yan came out of the fight with no injuries.
With that, the UFC will likely book the rematch in the early summer. I could see June being the targeted timeline for this matchup. Of course, we will likely find out more this week, but I expect this rematch to be booked as soon as possible.