Combat Sports

Petr Yan’s Big Move to American Top Team Ahead of UFC 259 Bout Against Aljamain Sterling

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Petr Yan Switches Camps Ahead of Sterling Fight

Petr Yan, the current UFC bantamweight champion is training at American Top Team ahead of his bout with number one contender Aljamain Sterling. Yan had been training at the Phuket, Thailand-based Tiger Muay Thai since the beginning of his UFC career. It is evident in his UFC performances that the time he spent in Phuket granted Yan a deep understanding of the kick, knee, and clinch ranges. Adding the brutally effective strengths of traditional Muay Thai to his arsenal to his deep boxing background turned Yan into a monster on the feet.

Grappling in Thailand

Petr Yan’s move to American Top Team makes sense to me ahead of his fight against talented grappler and dangerous test, Aljamain Sterling. At Tiger Yan was exposed to highly talented wrestlers of many nationalities. Tiger is a common stopover for talented international wrestlers looking to learn the striking game and take their talents to the cage. Given Yan’s boxing background it’s fair to assume he picked up most of his wrestling skills in Thailand training with a lot of talented wrestlers from the east. Yan has shown these skills so far in his career with some slick upper body wrestling and nice mat returns (see Uriah Faber fight).

Getting Different Looks to Prepare for Sterling

While Petr Yan has picked up a nice set of grappling skills throughout his development, people have been using grappling as a medium to settle their conflicts since the dawn of recorded history. Cave paintings of positions we see on the mat in the gym and in the octagon are a good indicator that there is a massive amount to be known about this topic. For this reason, I see the move to Top Team is a very good one. American Top Team is home to a large number of high-level wrestlers most of whom came up through the ranks of NCAA wrestling, just like Sterling.

Stylistic Differences

Wrestling has been practiced for at least fifteen thousand years by humans as such, there are massive stylistic and technical differences in the wrestling practiced by different cultures. Eastern and western wrestling vary greatly both technically and philosophically. Given that Petr Yan has a tremendous amount of experience thwarting wrestlers of eastern origin, the move to American Top Team makes a lot of sense to prepare him for a grappler like sterling who is so dangerous with a more classic, attacking American style of wrestling. Top Team is home to many high-level American wrestlers that should be invaluable in preparing Petr Yan for Sterling’s attacking grappling style and physical strength.

Aljamain’s Submissions

If Petr Yan hopes to take this bout he must stay off of the mat. Aljamain Sterling has great takedowns and can grind out wins. He also is a black belt in BJJ under the very credible Renzo Gracie black belt and former UFC welterweight champ Matt Serra. The Matt Serra black belt’s professional career has seen eight wins by way of submission. In his last fight, Aljamain mauled a surging Cory Sandhagen. Sterling almost immediately strangled Cory Sandhagen and sent shockwaves throughout the MMA world. I think Sterling’s top pressure and strangles could overwhelm his opponent. It is imperative for Yan that the fight stays standing.


For Petr Yan, I think moving camps to American Top Team at least for this fight specifically is a tremendously smart move. Aljamain Sterling has always been a fantastic grappler, but his win over Cory Sandhagen was so violently emphatic that dealing with his grappling is an even more pressing concern for Yan than it had been for his past opponents. Yan is very good with the eastern style of wrestling and his Thai clinch Sterling, however, has a very dangerous version of the classic attack style of American Wrestling. Since American Top Team is filled with fighters who wrestle in a similar style to Sterling, I think it’s a great move for Yan to prepare for such an opponent.

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1 comment

  • Fred Bills says:


    The analysis of preparing for differing styles of grappling with differences rooted in culture is a perspicacious take to be sure. That was next level. Yan is impressive and if he’s got the goods to keep his fights standing watch out. Super pumped for his next fight.


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