UFC: Aljamain Sterling wants to fight Petr Yan in January or February

This past Saturday in the co-main event of UFC 267, Petr Yan (16-2) took on Cory Sandhagen (14-4) for the interim bantamweight championship. The winner of this matchup was expected to unify the UFC bantamweight title against Aljamain Sterling (20-3).

The fight started out like many Petr Yan fights. He likes to almost take the first round to download what his opponent is doing. In a way, he reminds me a lot of Floyd Mayweather. The opponent will get a little lead in the opening round while he figures the opponent out.

Sandhagen was doing a really good job of using his range early in round one. To the outside eye, Sandhagen was looking like a difficult puzzle for Yan at UFC 267. However, Yan was just getting started and he was analyzing what Sandhagen was doing.

Everything changed once the second round started. On my scorecard, Yan won every round after the first round at UFC 267. He hurt Sandhagen a few times including dropping him once. His counters were precise and it was a clear decision win for Yan who became the interim bantamweight champion.

UFC Unification Bout

Today on the MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, the UFC champion Aljamain Sterling appeared to talk about the timeline of the unification bout. The Funkmaster said that he texted UFC match maker Sean Shelby immediately after the fight between Yan and Sandhagen concluded.

Sterling said that he wants the UFC to make the fight for either January or February. Originally, Sterling was supposed to rematch with Yan at UFC 267. The interim title came about when Sterling wasn’t cleared to compete after undergoing neck surgery earlier this year.

Sterling captured the title at UFC 259 when he defeated Yan by disqualification. That fight honestly went a lot like the Yan – Sandhagen fight. Sterling got off to a really good start, and once Yan downloaded the data, it became a beating.

Yan landed an illegal knee which caused the fight to end in the fourth round. Now, the two men will settle the score and determine who is the true best bantamweight in the UFC. Look for this fight to take place in Q1 of next year, but the exact date won’t be finalized for a few weeks.

UFC books interim title fight between Petr Yan and Cory Sandhagen

UFC 267 has a new co-main event. Over the weekend we learned that bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling (20-3) was out of his title defense against Petr Yan (15-2) next month on Fight Island.

Sterling had next surgery earlier in the year and was trying to make his comeback to defend against Yan. Yan lost the title to Sterling back at UFC 259. The title change was controversial considering Sterling won by disqualification in a fight he was clearly losing.

Due to the nature of the fight, the UFC decided to run things back immediately. However, Sterling is going to need more time as doctors wouldn’t clear him to defend his title next month.

The promotion wanted to move forward with an interim title fight that featured Yan. The first choice was TJ Dillashaw (17-4). Dillashaw is ranked right behind Yan and just returned in July.

The former UFC champion defeated Cory Sandhagen (14-3) in his return, however, the fight was razor close. During the fight, Dillashaw suffered a knee injury which required surgery. With him still recovering, he wasn’t an option.

Sandhagen’s UFC Title Shot

ESPN’s Brett Okamoto broke the news today that Sandhagen will now be getting a shot at Yan for the interim title at UFC 267. Sandhagen was the favorite for a title shot after he knocked out Frankie Edgar with a flying knee earlier in 2021.

However, after the UFC 259 result between Yan and Sterling, Sandhagen was forced to take a fight with Dillashaw. While two scorecards went for Dillashaw, many believe that Sandhagen won the fight. Now, due to two injuries, Sandhagen is getting his UFC title shot that many believe he deserved all along.

Before the Dillashaw loss, Sandhagen had gone 7-1 in the UFC with his lone loss coming against Aljamain Sterling. Sandhagen is looked at as someone who will definitely be a UFC champion at some point in his career.

He has all the tools and physical attributes to become a champion it’s just a matter of putting it all together. Now, he’s going to have his chance to do it. This is a fantastic fight and in my opinion, UFC 267 just got a lot more interesting.

After huge win at UFC Vegas 32, what’s next for TJ Dillashaw?

This past Saturday at UFC Vegas 32, we saw the return of the former bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw (17-4). Dillashaw was taking on arguably the best bantamweight in the division in Cory Sandhagen (14-3) in his return.

Sandhagen stumbled against UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling (20-3), however, he bounced back strong. Back-to-back knockouts had everyone believing that Sandhagen was on a war path to the UFC bantamweight title.

TJ Dillashaw never lost the bantamweight title inside the octagon. Dillashaw relinquished the belt after he tested positive for EPO and was suspended for two years. In reality, nobody really knew what to expect from the former UFC champion.

Given Dillashaw’s talent and skill, I figured he’d give Sandhagen a very good fight. However, I figured that Sandhagen would be a bit sharper and edge Dillashaw in a close one at UFC Vegas 32.

For the most part, that prediction looked really good. Through four rounds, I had the fight even. I leaned every so slightly towards Dillashaw in the final frame, but there’s no questioning the fact that Sandhagen did more damage over five rounds at UFC Vegas 32.

There was going to be no robbery either way in this one. Ultimately, two of the three judges gave the fight to Dillashaw and the former UFC champion successfully returned to the octagon.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 32?

After his win on Saturday night, TJ Dillashaw jumped right to the top of the UFC rankings at bantamweight. The only men ranked above him are the champion and the former champion, Petr Yan (15-2).

Yan and Sterling will run things back at UFC 267 at the end of the October. This rematch is occurring because of the controversary ending to their first fight back in March. Yan was dominating the fight, but a blatant illegal knee by Yan forced the fight to stop.

Sterling was awarded the title by DQ and now hopefully we will get some clarity. Dillashaw hurt his knee at UFC Vegas 32 and is going to have to have surgery to repair some damage. That said, it shouldn’t keep him out too long.

In fact, it should line up perfectly with fighting the winner of the UFC 267 main event. With that in mind, there’s only one thing that’s next for TJ Dillashaw after Saturday night: a shot at the bantamweight title that he never lost inside the octagon.

Cody Garbrandt focused on becoming a two-division UFC champion

This weekend at UFC Vegas 27, former bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt (12-3) returns in the main event. Garbrandt is taking on the surging contender Rob Font (18-4) in a pivotal matchup for the bantamweight division.

The last year has been really difficult for the former UFC champion. Garbrandt last fought at UFC 250 last June where he knocked out Raphael Assuncao in the second round with a savage right hand.

It was a massive win for Garbrandt who snapped a three-fight losing streak with that win. After the win, Garbrandt came out and said that he was going to drop to flyweight and challenge for the UFC‘s flyweight title.

The promotion booked him against the champion Deiveson Figueiredo (20-1-1) at UFC 255. However, after a battle with COVID, Garbrandt had to pull out of the fight. Figueiredo ended up defeating Alex Perez that night and fought to a draw a few weeks later against Brandon Moreno (18-5-2).

At UFC 263, Figueiredo and Moreno will rematch after their first fight was scored a draw. That delayed Garbrandt’s chances at the flyweight title and as a result, he decided to stay at bantamweight to fight Rob Font.

The former UFC champion now finds himself in a unique spot. If he wins on Saturday, he could be one of the first in line to fight for the bantamweight title. However, he also could be the next in line for the flyweight title after UFC 263.

Garbrandt’s two-division UFC dream

In speaking to the media this week prior to UFC Vegas 27, Garbrandt made it clear that he sees two titles in his future. He laid out a scenario in which he can become a two-division champion in the next year.

Garbrandt pointed out the fact that if he wins Saturday and the winner of Figueiredo/Moreno comes out clean, he could fight the winner in a few months. That would be his chance to capture the UFC flyweight title.

If that were to happen, Garbrandt could then move back up to challenge the bantamweight champion. Champion Aljamain Sterling (20-3) and Petr Yan (15-2) are expected to rematch in the fall after Sterling won the title by DQ at UFC 259.

TJ Dillashaw and Cory Sandhagen are fighting in July and the winner of that matchup might be next. However, Garbrandt could be the second in line after Sandhagen/Dillashaw.

If “No Love” wins at UFC Vegas 27 then drops down to become the flyweight champion, he very well could fight for the bantamweight title next year. It’s a steep ask, but Garbrandt seems up to the challenge. You can see his full pre-fight media scrum below.

UFC: Aljamain Sterling to have neck surgery which will sideline him until the end of the year

UFC fans are going to have to wait for the rematch between Aljamain Sterling (20-3) and Petr Yan (15-2). The bantamweight champion told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto that he’s set for neck surgery on April 15th.

The surgery is to address a medical issue that Sterling has apparently been dealing with for the past ten years. There had been whispers of a summer rematch between Sterling and Yan, but that is now off the table. Sterling won the title by disqualification last month.

The UFC champion told ESPN, “They told me I will heal in three months, and can start doing cardio to get myself ready. They wouldn’t want to see me take a fight until they see everything has fused in my neck correctly. Five months would be ideal.”

Sterling went on to say that he doesn’t believe that the UFC should make an interim title. He pointed out that Yan went the same amount of time between winning the title and their matchup at UFC 259.

What’s next for the UFC?

Sterling told ESPN that in an ideal world he would defend his title in either late October or early November. So, what does the UFC do and will Petr Yan sit on the sidelines for that amount of time?

I’m really not sure what’s going to happen because this surgery screws up the entire timeline. The UFC wanted Sterling and Yan to rematch in the summer. The plan was to have the winner of TJ Dillashaw – Cory Sandhagen fight for the title in the fall.

However, with Sterling out, all bets are off. If I had to guess, I think the UFC is going to make an interim title. I could be dead wrong, but something tells me that they will.

My guess is that the winner of TJ Dillashaw – Cory Sandhagen will fight Petr Yan in the summer for the interim title. The winner of that matchup would then fight Sterling for the undisputed UFC title in the fall. Might not make sense to Sterling, but that’s the direction I think the promotion goes in.

Henry Cejudo teases UFC comeback on ESPN

UFC, Henry Cejudo

Is the King of Cringe coming back to the UFC? Former Olympic Gold Medalist and two-division world champion, Henry Cejudo (16-2), is once again teasing a return to the octagon. This time, he teased the news on ESPN.

Cejudo appeared on ESPN’s SportsNation this morning where he talked about the bantamweight division. Of course, a lot of the conversation centered around UFC 259. The event’s bantamweight title match ended in controversy with Aljamain Sterling (20-3) becoming champion by disqualification.

Petr Yan (15-2) looked like he was well on his way to retaining his bantamweight title. However, with 30 seconds left in the fourth round, Yan launched a knee that hit Sterling flush. The problem was that Sterling’s knee was still on the ground so the strike was illegal.

Sterling was unable to continue and ultimately he walked away as the new UFC bantamweight champion. The promotion has come out and said that the rematch will happen as soon as possible. 

Cejudo acknowledged that he believes the UFC will do the rematch with Yan and Sterling next. However, Cejudo then said that he would like to line up both Yan and Sterling and beat them both. He signed off the interview by saying, “Triple C’s coming back, what’s up!”

UFC return for Henry Cejudo?

The last time we saw Henry Cejudo was back at UFC 249 when he finished Dominick Cruz in the second round. It was the first successful title defense of his bantamweight title. After the fight was over, Cejudo announced that he was walking away from the sport on top.

Cejudo has a case for the most decorated combat sports athlete in history. He’s a two-division UFC champion and he won an Olympic Gold Medal in freestyle wrestling. He’s also only 34 years old which means he has plenty of career left if he wants to come back.

From 2018 – 2020, it’s hard to put on a run like Henry Cejudo did. First, he defeated Demetrious Johnson to become the UFC’s flyweight champion. Then, he knocked out TJ Dillashaw in seconds when Dillashaw was trying to become a two-division champion.

From there, he stopped both Marlon Moraes to win and Dominick Cruz to defend the UFC bantamweight championship. It was truly something special and it was enough where Cejudo felt comfortable walking away.

However, Cejudo has constantly been teasing a return. The UFC’s bantamweight division is in a very interesting spot at the moment. Throwing back in Henry Cejudo could make things even more interesting. This will definitely be something to watch.

State of the bantamweight division after UFC 259

UFC 259 was supposed to provide some clarity in the bantamweight division. While Petr Yan (15-2) was the champion, many questioned how legit he was as the champion seeing as the two wins he had leading to the title came against Urijah Faber and Jose Aldo (29-7).

While both are great former champions, neither are considered to be the cream of the crop at 135 pounds. Aljamain Sterling (20-3) on the other hands was considered by everyone to be the number one contender.

Sterling had been on an incredible run and was expected to be the biggest challenge for Yan. Had Yan defeated Sterling, you couldn’t question the legitimacy of his title reign. Well, for almost four rounds at UFC 259, it looked like we were heading that direction.

Aljamain Sterling was putting up a good fight, but Petr Yan was in control on Saturday night. Sterling was fading badly and it looked like we were getting close to a potential Petr Yan stoppage win. However, that’s when chaos erupted.

With about 30 seconds left in the fourth round, Aljamain Sterling was grounded with one knee on the floor. Yan looked to his corner for instructions and someone said he was good to throw a knee. Yan launched a knee that hit Sterling flush in the temple.

That knee ultimately prevented Sterling from being able to continue. As a result, Yan was disqualified and Sterling won the title. While Sterling was on his way to losing, he gets a DQ win and walked out of UFC 259 the bantamweight champion.

State of the UFC’s bantamweight division

With all of this controversy, Dana White said that the UFC will immediately book the rematch between Sterling and Yan. While Sterling has the title, there’s virtually no one that views him as the champion with him winning in that fashion.

To me, it’s almost like the title is vacant. I don’t think either man should have the title at the moment, but my opinion doesn’t matter. Sterling will go into the rematch with Yan as the bantamweight champion.

With that rematch in the works, the UFC will now look to book Cory Sandhagen (14-2) against former champion, TJ Dillashaw (16-4). Dillashaw is eligible to fight now that he’s off suspension and Dana White said he would be in a title eliminator in his first fight back.

Considering the spots in the division, it appears that Dillashaw and Sandhagen are on a collision course. The next spot in the rankings belongs to Rob Font (18-4). In my opinion, I would love to see Font fight former UFC champion, Cody Garbrandt (12-3) next.

However, Garbrandt has been chasing a fight with Jose Aldo next. If that happens, Font will need a new fight. Based on the rankings, the only fight that would make sense for Font is Pedro Munhoz (19-5, 1 NC).

Munhoz is in the top ten and he’s coming off of a very impressive win against Jimmie Rivera. Prior to that he lost a debatable decision to Frankie Edgar. Had that decision gone towards Munhoz, he’d be in the top five right now. The promotion will get these guys paired up and it should be an exciting 2021 at 135.

UFC will make Yan – Sterling 2 as soon as possible per Dana White

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.

UFC’s Plans

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.

Aljamain Sterling wins by DQ to become champion at UFC 259

The first of three title fights tonight at UFC 259 was the bantamweight title fight between Petr Yan (15-1) and Aljamain Sterling (19-3). These two were originally supposed  to fight back in December, but the fight got delayed.

Tonight was the first title defense for Petr Yan. Yan won the bantamweight title back at UFC 251 when he stopped Jose Aldo. Since making his debut with the UFC back in 2018, Yan has been perfect going 7-0.

While it’s been relatively smooth sailing for Yan so far, tonight was going to be his toughest test. There is no questioning that the top contender in the UFC‘s bantamweight division is Aljamain Sterling.

Sterling has strung together five consecutive wins to earn this title shot tonight. None of the wins were as impressive as his victory over fellow top contender Cory Sandhagen. Those two met back at UFC 250.

The fight was supposed to be incredibly even, however, it didn’t appear that way. Sterling was able to get Sandhagen to the ground quickly and submit him within 90 seconds. He was going to be the biggest test Petr Yan has seen in the UFC so far.

UFC 259 Recap

Round 1

The UFC bantamweight title fight opened with immediate pressure from Sterling. Sterling opens with a couple of nice kicks to the body. A nice jab lands for Sterling and Yan looked very composed early on.

Yan had his guard high just trying to time Sterling. Another nice body kick lands for Sterling. Yan’s body was really red from the kicks of Sterling. Sterling was pushing forward with a ton of pressure here in the first.

A nice combination lands for Sterling. Yan catches a kick and throws Sterling to the ground, but lets him up. Sterling goes right back to the pressure. A flying knee lands for Aljamain Sterling, but it didn’t seem to hurt Yan.

First big takedown attempt for Sterling and he gets Yan down. However, Yan gets right back up. Yan separates and lands a massive combination that floors Sterling. Sterling is wobbling around, but goes right back to the pressure.

The UFC champion floors Sterling with a leg kick. Sterling gets back up, but his facial expression has changed. Yan is smiling at Sterling in the final minute. Sterling tries to grapple and Yan slams him down. Good start for Sterling, but the UFC champ takes the first round.

Round 2

The UFC champ wanted to get right back to the action in the second round. Sterling opens the striking with a body kick. A nice jab lands from Sterling and he tries to takedown the champ. Yan defended well and threw Sterling to the ground.

Yan was smiling at Sterling and lets him up. Sterling goes right back to the pressure. A couple of nice body shots lands for Sterling and he shoots in for another takedown. However, he couldn’t get Petr Yan down here in the second.

While Yan defended well, Sterling wouldn’t give up on the takedown attempt. Sterling tries a trip and still can’t get Yan down. Yan separates, but Sterling gave him no room to breathe. Sterling went right back to the takedown attempt against the fence.

One minute left in the round and these two were just along the fence. A nice knee lands for Petr Yan and Sterling tries hard for the takedown, but Yan separates. Again, Sterling goes right back to the pressure. With ten seconds left, the UFC champion lands his own takedown. With the pressure, I lean Sterling in round two.

Round 3

The third round opens with again, more pressure from Sterling. However, he did seem slower in the third round. A couple of nice jabs land for Aljamain Sterling. Yan pushes forward and lands a nasty hook to the body.

The UFC champ started opening up here in the third. Yan was pressuring Sterling more in the third and lands some big shots. The pace was significantly slower for Sterling her in the third round. A sloppy takedown attempt from Sterling is easily defended by Yan.

Yan was walking Sterling down here in the third. A nice 1-2 lands for Yan and he uses a clinch to just throw the challenger to the ground. Yan lets him back up and the UFC champ went right back to work. However, Sterling was able to use a takedown attempt to hold Yan against the fence.

Sterling looked exhausted here in the third round. The two come together again and Yan just throws Sterling to the ground. Sterling gets back up and tries for more takedowns, but they were very sloppy. Clear third round for the UFC bantamweight champion.

Round 4

Petr Yan looked much fresher in between rounds here at UFC 259. Sterling opens the fourth round with a body kick. Yan grabs the leg of Sterling and he throws the challenger back to the ground.

However, he didn’t follow him to the ground. Instead, the UFC champ went to work with kicks to the legs. A big knee to the body lands for Yan as Sterling gets up. A big combination lands for Yan, but that forces Sterling to push forward.

A couple of nice hooks to the body land for Aljamain Sterling. A stiff straight left hand from Yan backs off Sterling. A huge body kick lands for the UFC champion and he’s turning it up. However, Sterling shoots for another takedown to stop the pressure.

Yan immediately turns Sterling around and separates. Halfway through the round and Sterling looks like he’s moving in slow motion. Another body kick lands for Yan. The champ lands a big left hand. Both men were looking fatigued here in the fourth at UFC 259.

A huge left straight hurts Sterling. Sterling was starting to walk away from Petr Yan. Sterling then started shooting for takedowns out of desperation. A huge combination lands for Yan and Sterling keeps plotting forward.

A big illegal knee lands for Petr Yan and Sterling is hurt on the mat. This one looks like it’s going to be over. Aljamain Sterling is going to be the new UFC champion by disqualification.

Aljamain Sterling def. Petr Yan by Disqualification (Illegal Knee)

UFC 259 Preview: Petr Yan – Aljamain Sterling

The first of three title fights at UFC 259 is the bantamweight title match between Petr Yan (15-1) and Aljamain Sterling (19-3). Originally, these two were supposed to fight in December, however, they will finally stand across from each other tomorrow night.

Since making his debut with the UFC back in 2018, nobody has been able to stop Petr Yan. Yan has gone 7-0 with four stoppages over the last couple of years. In late 2019, Yan demolished Hall of Famer Urijah Faber which really announced his arrival to the world.

From there, Yan earned a vacant title opportunity against former champion, Jose Aldo. The two met at UFC 251 on Fight Island. Yan got off to a slow start, but as the fight went on, he started taking control. Yan ended up with a fifth round TKO to capture the bantamweight title.

Just one month prior to Yan becoming champion, Aljamain Sterling fought Cory Sandhagen. This matchup was considered a title eliminator and nobody knew how it would go. Well, Sterling got Sandhagen down and submitted him in just under 90 seconds.

With that emphatic win, Sterling had earned himself a UFC title shot. Sterling is unbeaten since 2018 having gone 5-0 inside the octagon. He’s defeated Cody Stamann, Jimmie Rivera, Pedro Munhoz, and Sandhagen on his road to UFC 259.

UFC 259 Prediction

When it comes to the title fight at UFC 259, the path to victory for both men is quite clear. For Aljamain Sterling, he has to get this fight to the ground. Yes, we’ve seen him show off some good striking, just take a look at the Pedro Munhoz fight.

However, we all know that Sterling is going to need to get this fight to the ground to win tomorrow night. For Petr Yan, retaining his UFC title is all about defending the takedown. Yan’s boxing is sensational and he needs to make this a striking matchup to win.

Aljamain Sterling has never gone five rounds while Yan has done it several times. I’m also going to be curious to see the gas tanks of both men. The first round of this fight is going to tell me a lot.

If Sterling is able to get Yan down early and often with little trouble, we are going to have a new UFC bantamweight champion. However, if Yan is able to keep this mostly on the feet, he’s going to score a knockout tomorrow. In the end, I’m leaning towards Petr Yan getting the finish and retaining his title tomorrow night.

Prediction: Petr Yan by TKO – Round 4