Combat Sports

UFC 273 Co-Main Event Preview: Sterling vs. Yan II

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It took slightly more than 13 months for the MMA fight marred by a controversial finish to get the rematch that the combat sports world has been waiting for, but this Saturday night, the UFC will deliver what the fans have been salivating over at long last in the UFC 273 co-main event of the evening on ESPN+ pay-per-view.

UFC Bantamweight Championship Rematch to Serve As UFC 273 Co-Main Event Saturday

Incumbent UFC Bantamweight Champion (and Cage Fury Fighting Championships alumnus) Aljamain Sterling (20-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC) will square off for the second time in as many UFC appearances against No. 1 contender and current UFC Interim Bantamweight Champion Petr Yan (16-2 MMA, 8-1 UFC) in a unification battle at 135 lbs as your co-main event in Jacksonville, FL at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena.

As with all MMA title fights, the UFC 273 co-main event will run an advertised maximum of five rounds at five minutes each.

UFC 273 Co-Main Event Fighter Comparison

Entering the UFC 273 co-main event this Saturday night, both the champion and the challenger stand level in height at 5-foot-7.

While they stand level in height, Sterling and Yan gain some separation with one another in reach and leg reach.

Aljamain Sterling owns a four-inch reach advantage (71 inches to 67 inches) and a one-inch leg reach advantage (39 inches to 38 inches) over Petr Yan going into the co-headliner this week.

The First Meeting: A Disqualification Causes Controversy and Sets Up a Rematch

In March of 2021, Sterling and Yan met for the championship for the first time in the UFC 259 co-main event of the evening inside the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.

During the fourth round of a scheduled five, controversy ensued after Petr Yan landed a deliberate illegal knee on Aljamain Sterling while the latter was down on one knee.

A delay of several minutes soon followed, after which referee Mark Smith showed Yan no mercy and declared him the match’s loser by way of disqualification.

This contest marked the first time in UFC championship history, weight class notwithstanding, that the belt was won in this manner.

After Sterling completed his post-fight interview on the telecast, the champion, feeling that the victory was tarnished, left the 135-lb. strap in the famed UFC Octagon.

A rematch with Yan was initially booked for UFC 267 in Abu Dhabi last October, but the bout was postponed a month prior to its Oct. 30 date after Sterling was battling a neck injury.

Subsequently, a rebooking of the rematch was slotted for April 9, so barring anything unforeseen in the next few days, the fight will be on this Saturday night.

Aljamain Sterling Adds Fuel to the Fire, Insulting Petr Yan, Wanting Clean Win in UFC 273 Co-Main Event

Last July, Aljamain Sterling, who has posted a 5-0 record in his last five fights and enters UFC 273 on a six-fight winning streak, attended UFC 264 as a guest of the promotion and was given a chance to speak his mind about a rematch with Petr Yan at the event’s press conference, where his microphone cut out while speaking on the topic.

“I just want to fight, shut this guy up and be done with it,” Sterling said. “No clown emojis and everyone can realize that I didn’t get here by mistake. I didn’t fall out of the sky and just jump into a Dana White privilege opportunity to fight for a world title and getting gifted with a guy who’s stupid enough to become the champion and not know the rules. That’s on him, that’s not me.”

These are the words of a man who is asking for, nay, a man who is demanding a clean win in the UFC 273 co-main event to put the controversy of March 6, 2021 behind him permanently, but only time will tell if he does, in fact, win the belt cleanly.

Petr Yan Looks To Trade Interim Championship For Permanent Title

In the other corner, Petr Yan has posted a record of 4-1 in his last five fights and looks to score his second win in a row on Saturday night in the UFC 273 co-main event after scoring the UFC Interim Bantamweight Championship via unanimous decision last October versus Cory Sandhagen in UFC 267.

“Cory’s a well-deserving opponent,” Yan began in his post-fight interview through his translator. “I knew at some point, it’s going to be a fight and I knew I’m going to change the course of this fight. I knew it was going to be his gameplan, moving a lot. He’s a tall guy who moves well, but our gameplan was going to pressure him a lot and just beat him to the punch.”

Later in the same interview. Yan sent Sterling a message following the victory for the interim title.

“Everyone knows I’m the real champion,” Yan said. “I’m here, I’m ready to fight anyone.”

Both of these men are ready to rumble, it would appear, so it stands to reason this fight’s going to be a lot of fun to watch.

Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction

Stylistically, the UFC 273 co-main event seems to favor Aljamain Sterling, a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, compared to Petr Yan, a blue belt in BJJ and a Master of Sport in both boxing and MMA.

Aljamain Sterling Can End UFC 273 Co-Main Event With a Submission

Aljamain Sterling enters Saturday night’s co-main event having won 20 MMA fights throughout his career 10 of them via stoppage, with eight of those victories coming by submission.

Therefore, he can pounce on his opposition and get them to tap out, as was the case against Cody Stamann in 2018.

During the second round of a scheduled three, Sterling, having fought off a Stamann submission attempt late in round one, landed a takedown and later took Stamann to the back mount for a few moments before standing up and scoring with knee strikes to Stamann’s thigh.

From there, Sterling took mount several times, landing heavy ground and pound shots to try to soften him up, momentarily putting him in a full Nelson, before finally securing a kneebar submission, forcing Stamann to tap out.

All it will take for Aljamain Sterling to win the fight is as little as one takedown.

If he can take Petr Yan down and grapple with him effectively, it’s a wrap.

Petr Yan Can Punch His Way To a Victory

In the other corner, Petr Yan has been known to score the knockout in effective fashion, as he did during his UFC promotional debut versus Teruto Ishihara.

During the first round of a scheduled three, Yan connected with combinations and stuffed an Ishihara takedown attempt, backing him up against the cage fence with two minutes to go, landing a punch to the chin to knock him down, scoring with a flurry of punches before Ishihara recovered, albeit briefly.

At that point, Yan wobbled Ishihara, finally ending the fight with a nasty shot that sent Ishihara down to the mat to stay.

If Petr Yan can score with crisp punches, the UFC 273 co-main event will be over in a hurry.

Final Thoughts

What else do we need to say about this co-main event that’s not been mentioned already?

Although it’s only April, the UFC 273 co-main event could very well be a strong contender for fight of the year in 2022, so buy the pay-per-view and watch.

Prediction: Aljamain Sterling by Unanimous Decision.

Featured image credit to Embed from Getty Images

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