The age-old argument amongst MMA fans has always been how good a certain athlete may be, we find ourselves in the same position after his scintillating display at UFC 267 against Cory Sandhagen, Petr Yan is now the subject of the current debate. Let’s take a look at: “How good is Petr Yan?”
How It Began
28-year-old Russian Petr Yan began his Martial Arts journey in sixth grade by practicing the art of Taekwon-do, before transitioning to Boxing where he dedicated himself and learned the trade for the next eight years.
Far from just brawn, Yan attended the Siberian Federal University in the city of Omsk where he achieved a degree in Physical Culture and Sport.
In 2014 after his first MMA fight Yan made his first of many journeys to Phuket-based gym Tiger Muay Thai, where he was able to work on his skillset to much praise from numerous top named MMA personnel.
Yan raced to an 8-1 record in three years prior to signing with UFC in early 2018, after avenging his split decision loss to Magomedov and winning the ACB Bantamweight Championship, Yan went on to a successful defense against Mattos before signing with the world’s biggest MMA promotion.
Yan started life in the UFC with five fights in six months racking up an impressive 5-0 start to his UFC career.
Wins over John Dodson and Jimmie Rivera getting him some serious recognition amongst the UFC brass, for his relentless tenacious yet patient fight style.
In the fights mentioned above was when we really saw how legitimate a contender he was going to become in the Bantamweight division, with the manner he rocked Dodson with such ease and threw him around the cage in just the first round showing absolutely no respect for the talent of the UFC veteran.
The similar story against Rivera where Yan was able to drop his opponent early on by dictating the pace of the fight on route to a comfortable decision victory.
The Legend Killer
After his impressive victories over Dodson and Rivera, Yan finally got to add a big scalp to his resume against MMA legend Urijah Faber, although Yan entered the fight as the favorite this was undoubtedly the biggest test of his professional career.
During the fight, we saw Yan constantly switch up his fight style from orthodox to southpaw. A regular technique of his that allows him to back up his opponents and control the center of the cage and this was exactly what he did with Faber, taking away any opportunity for Faber to attempt to control the fight.
The breakthrough came in the second round when Yan caught Faber with a huge right-hand dropping him, after making his way to his feet Yan swiftly dropped Faber for the second time of the fight with a nasty elbow that blew up the left eye of Faber.
The finish finally came 40 seconds into round 3 after utilizing his clinch Faber managed to break out of it to no avail as he eat a head kick from Yan.
Next up on the legend killer tour, Yan got his first opportunity at UFC gold against the legendary Featherweight Jose Aldo, Aldo a multiple-time Champion had questions to answer himself as people had begun to doubt he was the fighter he once was.
It didn’t take Yan long to take control to the end of round one Aldo attempted a takedown and failed, Yan took advantage of his position where he rained a barrage of shots down onto a grounded Aldo.
In the 4th round, Yan rocked Aldo with a vicious uppercut before throwing him to the floor and taking top guard raining down heavy shots on Aldo, although it made it to the fifth round the fight was never in question in the final round Yan viciously attacked a turtled-up Aldo with vicious ground and pound to win the Bantamweight title.
Controversial Title Loss
In March 2021 Yan was to lose the Bantamweight title in a controversial fashion against Aljamain Sterling. In the fourth round of the fight, Yan struck a grounded Sterling with an Illegal knee leaving him unable to continue resulting in a disqualification and a loss of the belt to Sterling.
Prior to the illegal knee, it is widely regarded that Yan was comfortably winning the fight dropping Sterling with a huge shot in the 1st round and showing impressive takedown defense stuffing any attempts by Sterling.
Throughout the fight, the knees of Yan had been hugely effective clearly disrupting Sterling’s thoughts of initiating takedowns, and in the fourth round, it was the trademark knee that ended the fight but not in the manner that Yan would have wanted.
With Sterling absent for the unforeseeable future Dana White had made Yan’s battle with Sandhagen in UFC 267’s co-main event for the Interim Bantamweight title, it did not disappoint taking Fight of Night honors on Saturday night in Abu Dhabi. The two bantamweights combined for a hugely impressive 729 total strike attempts in a back-and-forth battle that ultimately saw Yan defeat Sandhagen via unanimous decision to win the interim bantamweight title.
As to what’s next for Petr Yan, it has been said by Dana White that there’s no question the plan is for Yan vs Sterling next, Yan will get the opportunity to take back the title and honor of being undisputed Champion and win the belt that many feel he never lost.
It’s a testament to Yan that in his 8-1 UFC record to date he has actually gone into every single one of his UFC fights as the betting favorite.
Although Yan is regarded as a stand-up fighter he has a very impressive 90% takedown defense in the UFC. Yan’s two losses in his 15-2 record have come as a result of split decision and disqualification at no point of his career has Yan actually been dominated during a fight.
The fighting style of Yan has brought much praise in what is a typical Muay Thai stance Yan uses very high hands in defense, and regularly switches from orthodox to southpaw creating many more openings for himself, he also utilized a very dangerous clinch game opening up the opportunity for him to use his elbows and knees to maximum effect.
To summarise ‘How Good is Petr Yan?’ the answer is simple, he is one of the very best in MMA today he has all the tools to become one of the greatest fighters and to go on and dominate the Bantamweight division for years to come.
Featured Image Credits to Embed from Getty Images