Aljamain Sterling was impressed with Petr Yan’s performance at UFC 267.
In the co-main event of the card from Abu Dhabi, Yan was facing Cory Sandhagen for the interim bantamweight title. Originally, Yan and Sterling were going to have their rematch but the champ wasn’t medically cleared. When he was watching the fight, however, Sterling was impressed with Yan’s technical approach.
“He did a great job of walking him down,” Sterling said on his YouTube channel (via MMAJunkie). “That defense is very, very tight, very technical. He does a good job of looking through the eyebrows – just touching, slight parries, so every time you throw a jab, he just catches it, catches it nice and clean where almost nothing gets by. When Cory started to do a good job of trying to step in with the elbows, I was like, ‘This is a little bit too late, but it’s a good idea.’ It’s a good thing for other people to see. Even myself.
“I was like, ‘Oh, that was pretty crafty of a switch-up,’ but it’s kind of late in the fight to try and go that route at this point where you don’t have much pop in your punches or much juice left in the gas tank after a hard, 20-minute fight and you still have the last five minutes to go,” Sterling continued. “Sandhagen cuts him off, he attacks the body with clean body kicks. Cory trying to poker face it, played a little game of, ‘Oh that was nothing,’ showing the abs like, ‘Ah, I can eat that.’ But eventually, those wear you down.”
Petr Yan ended up doing enough on the feet to win a clear-cut decision and become the interim bantamweight champion. After the fight, Aljamain Sterling says he immediately texted the matchmakers to get the fight for early next year.
Although the two do not like one another as well, Sterling did praise Yan for his fight. Yet, he knows he has what it takes to beat the Russian.
“Yan fought a beautiful fight,” Sterling said. “I got the surgery. I still need a little bit more time. I’m aiming for January, February. … I’ll be at MSG – obviously UFC 268 is this weekend. I’m going to be there. Hopefully we get to talk it out and put something solid together and really get on the same page so we can all get ready to unify this belt and give the fans the fight that they deserve – the two best guys in the weight class really going at it, at their best, not one guy coming in a shell of himself at like 50, 60 percent, gassing out after five minutes of combat. That’s not good. I want to give you guys the show that you deserve. Yan and Sandhagen delivered. That’s what I want do for you guys.”
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