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UFC 259: Petr Yan vs Aljamain Sterling Fight Preview

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Petr Yan vs Aljamain Sterling will be the first out of three title fights showcased on UFC 259, as we’re edging closer and closer to one of the most stacked cards the UFC has ever seen. This event screams epic when you see the likes of UFC veterans Dominick Cruz and Joseph Benavidez fighting on the prelims!

Submission artist Aljamain Sterling steps into the octagon on Saturday in his first title fight against current champion Petr Yan, who destroyed Jose Aldo in his last matchup to win the bantamweight belt for the first time.

The double champ Amanda Nunes looks to defend her featherweight belt for the second time, with a tough task on her shoulders facing Australian knockout artist Megan Anderson. The main event sees “The Last Stylebender” Israel Adesanya step up to light heavyweight to try and become a two-weight champion if he overcomes the Polish power of Jan Blachowicz.

We have some outstanding bouts to come this weekend, with mixed reviews on what’s the best fight we’re going to see, with so much on offer. Without a doubt, this Petr Yan vs Aljamain Sterling fight is right up near the top of the list of fights to watch at UFC 259.

The 135-pound Title: Petr Yan vs Aljamain Sterling

Petr “No Mercy” Yan (15-1, 7-0 UFC)

Petr Yan celebrating after winning the bantamweight championship
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – JULY 12: Petr Yan of Russia celebrates after his TKO victory over Jose Aldo in their UFC bantamweight championship fight during the UFC 251 event at Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on July 12, 2020 on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

The ruthless Russian has been out of this world since joining the UFC back in 2018. His boxing style is at an elite level, dominating and destroying the opponents who step into the octagon with him.

On the road to the UFC, Yan fought in his home country, fighting for the organisation ACB. After a 5-0 start in his MMA career, he fought Magomed Magomedov for the vacant ACB Bantamweight Championship. This was a brawl and the majority of the bout was spent on the ground, with Magomedov coming out on top winning via split decision.

Yan returned against Magomedov and learned from his defeat. He adapted his ground game by dominating when on top with the ground and pound. The pace of the fight was quicker, with Yan keeping the fight to his style, on the feet. The Russian was victorious and earned his first title.

After defending his title once, Yan was signed by the UFC in 2018. A first-round knockout over Teruto Ishihara was a perfect way to start his UFC career. “No Mercy” was on the end of everyone’s tongue, a new superstar was in the making.

A Fight of the Night bonus came in his second bout, with a unanimous decision win over Jin Soo Son in his home country. Yan continued to dominate beating the likes of John Dodson and Jimmie Rivera and knocking out UFC Hall of Famer Urijah Faber with a glorious head-kick in the third round.

Yan felt he deserved a title shot and without a doubt he did. Henry Cejudo fought Cruz back at UFC 249 for the bantamweight title and won via TKO in the second round. Cejudo vacated the belt and retired after this, with Yan thinking the “King of Cringe” was ducking him.

At UFC 251, it was Yan’s time to shine, and he put on a performance of a lifetime. A tough test against an experienced fighter like Aldo is never easy. Yan made this easy. His standup was next to perfect and he dominated Aldo in every area. His ground and pound was too much for the Brazilian, with the referee stopping it inside the fifth round. The determination and hunger from Yan got him the belt he deserved.

Aljamain “Funkmaster” Sterling (19-3, 11-3 UFC)

Aljamain Sterling celebrating after beating Cory Sandhagen.
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JUNE 06: Aljamain Sterling celebrates after his submission victory over Cory Sandhagen in their bantamweight bout during the UFC 250 event at UFC APEX on June 06, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

The “Funkmaster” potentially has the best grappling in the UFC, and after a rocky spell in 2016/17, he has come back a completely different fighter in the last three years.

After being signed from CFFC (Cage Fury Fighting Championships) with an undefeated record of 8-0 in 2014 at the age of 24, Sterling was one to watch in the bantamweight division.

In his first four fights, the American had a perfect record of four wins, with beautiful submission wins over Takeya Mizugaki and Johnny Eduardo. Sterling was taking these guys down and using the multiple options that he has in the locker. The use of ground and pound is good to him, or he can look to use his grappling, with an arm-triangle choke victory over Mizugaki and a smooth guillotine choke over Eduardo.

His next two fights didn’t go to plan, with two split decision losses to Bryan Caraway and then Raphael Assuncao. The unbeaten record was gone, and his road towards the title shot was derailed.

Two more wins under his belt led him to a fight against Brazilian Marlon Moraes. Sterling lost this one just past the minute mark inside the first round after a ridiculous knee from Moraes knocked Sterling out cold. These knockouts sometimes have to happen for fighters to recover and become the fighter they want to be, and for Sterling, this did just that.

A decision win in his next fight against Brett Johns sent Sterling on his journey towards the title. A Suloev stretch was pulled off by the “Funkmaster” in his victory over Cody Stamann in his next fight. Sterling gained a position on the back of Stamann, then he grabbed the left leg of Cody to stretch and crush his leg, basically until Stamann couldn’t handle it anymore! This move was named after former MMA fighter Amar Suloev.

Two more dominant decision wins over Rivera and Pedro Munhoz led Sterling to a title eliminator against Cory Sandhagen. This was a beautiful matchup with both fighters having stunning technique when it comes to grappling. It was hard to predict and the winner of this one was going to face Yan for the bantamweight title.

For Sterling, this seemed to be no bother. From the get-go, he was on Sandhagen like a rash. The initial clinch led to Sterling hounding the back and taking Sandhagen down, with a rear-naked choke nearly coming 30 seconds into the fight. It only took 1:28 though to get under the chin and make Cory tap. A stunning performance left UFC President Dana White with no other option than to set up the Petr Yan vs Aljamain Sterling title fight!

Petr Yan vs Aljamain Sterling: The Breakdown

So how is this fight going to start? Both fighters seem to get going from the off, but with the two fighters having completely different styles, it seems to be quite unpredictable how we’re going to see it play out.

Let’s start with Yan and how he’s going to approach this one. His boxing stance is one of the most impressive in the UFC. Against Sterling, he’s going to face the wrath of takedown attempts, and against Faber, he showed he can defend it. With Sterling coming with the takedowns, Yan will look to counter strike and possibly come in with the uppercuts to try and knock Sterling down to the canvas.

We have seen Yan dominated on the ground in his only loss to Magomedov in 2016, but of course, he’s gained plenty of experience since then and became a completely different fighter. He even showed it in the rematch against Magomedov as stated before, his ground-game had certainly improved.

As for Sterling, we know he’s a submission artist and it’s pretty clear his game plan is going to be the takedowns. The question is, how is Yan going to cope with the grappling? Because it’s not been something we’ve really seen in the UFC, with him usually dominating his opponents. Sterling may look for the back and take him down from there, which seems to be a signature move of his.

Petr Yan vs Aljamain Sterling Prediction

Well… This is so hard to predict. With Yan being so dominant against Aldo it’s hard to go against him. For this one though, I’m going to have to, I feel Sterling is the worst possible matchup for Yan.

The ground-game of Sterling is just too strong, and I don’t feel like Yan can compete in this area. It’s going to a beautiful fight to watch and a potential Fight of the Night could be on the cards.

Petr Yan vs Aljamain Sterling Prediction: Sterling 2nd round submission

Who do you see winning the Petr Yan vs Aljamain Sterling title fight? Let us know your prediction in the comments below!

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  • Nathan Jones says:

    Interesting to hear yans only loss was spent on the ground , could play a big part come Saturday!

  • Jack Valentine says:

    Brilliant article! Can’t wait for the Petr Yan fight!

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