Aljamain Sterling rejects the idea that Petr Yan deserves an immediate rematch, as he believes the Russian should have been suspended for his ‘deliberate’ foul at UFC 259.
In their bantamweight title fight at UFC 259, Yan smashed a grounded Sterling with an illegal knee late in the fourth round, prompting referee Mark Smith to pause the action and call the cageside doctor to have a look at ‘Funk Master’. Moments later, ‘No Mercy’ was disqualified and the title was handed over to his opponent.
Petr Yan Should Have Been Suspended
During the UFC 259 post-fight press conference, Dana White said that due to the unfortunate ending to the fight, the two would immediately run it back.
Speaking at UFC 260 (as transcribed by MMA Fighting) however, Sterling said that Yan is ‘getting rewarded with a rematch’ even though he doesn’t deserve it. And that is why he called out Henry Cejudo.
“It’s fascinating because any other sport when you do something intentionally illegal, you get suspended, you get fined, you get ejected from the game,” Sterling said. “This guy’s getting rewarded with a rematch, which I get it’s a big fight, but it’s like, we can just break the rules and nothing’s ever gonna happen to us. I can just jump the Octagon, nothing’s ever gonna happen to me. I can just go fight another corner or I can push him after the bell and nothing’s ever gonna happen.
“I feel like when you have rules for a reason, you’ve got to somewhat enforce them otherwise let’s just run amuck. I’m okay with that, let me run amuck, let me start smacking guys and let me start doing the crazy s*** that I want to do instead of being professional about the way I handle my business. So that was the whole thing with Cejudo and that’s how I feel about Petr Yan. I feel like his ass should have been suspended or something. Pay me some money for an illegal foul that might take years off my career.”
While Sterling outpaced his opponent in the first round, Yan was able to control the majority of the action up until the disqualification, dominating his opponent at his own game with seven takedowns. The New York native disagrees with the idea of getting dominated however, and blames the ‘slippery’ Octagon.
“I look at it like it was an intentional foul,” Sterling stated. “He was frustrated that he couldn’t get me out of there. I was eating his biggest shots and he was probably thinking, ‘What else am I supposed to do with this guy?’ You want to say he ragdolled me because he tripped me a couple of times on a slippery Octagon, I don’t give a s***. I really don’t. Because the Octagon was super slippery, I couldn’t get none of my takedowns, and those are facts.
“You could see all the other fighters that are slipping and sliding all over the cage—Kevin Holland throwing a head kick and then busting his ass—It’s like, I don’t know what they’re doing in terms of the COVID stuff spraying on the canvas, but this is something I think they’ve got to look into because it’s affecting the fights. You’ve got guys who pressure, put all their weight in, and it’s like you’re just sliding, so you can never get your footing underneath you to actually get your takedowns.”
Not 100 Percent At UFC 259
Sterling also claimed that Yan fought a depleted version of him, and likes his chances in the rematch.
“At the end of the day I’m happy,” Sterling said. “I put myself in position to fight for a world title. It’s eluded me for super long and unfortunately the fight went the way it went, we’re gonna do it again. If that’s the best Petr Yan versus a watered-down Sterling—People don’t even know, I had my morning shake-out, I ate at 10:30, I ate the food that the UFC PI gave me for breakfast, a very small portion of food. And that’s all I had until the fight. Normally I do the same thing, but I eat a bigger breakfast and I fight a lot earlier. So I felt very depleted going into the fight in the backroom.
“I don’t want to make any excuses, but my performance was hindered and I feel like if I perform like that, still ate his biggest shots, best shots, I like my chances in a rematch and I’m super excited.”
Shutting Up His Critics
The 31 year old also defended referee Mark Smith for disqualifying Yan, adding that he can’t wait to shut up his critics in a rematch.
“If you commit a foul intentionally, you should be disqualified,” Sterling said. “When else are we going to disqualify guys? Do I need to bite a ear? Do I need to headbutt somebody? And then you like, wag your finger at me, ‘Don’t you do that. That was illegal. That’s wrong. I’m gonna take a point, we’re gonna go to the judges.’ No, that’s silly. This is not a street fight. I came here for an organised fight. We know the rules, we’re playing by the same rules, so enforce the rules.
“No more of these eye pokes, these low blows, ‘Oh this is a warning, that’s a hard warning, I’m sorry that’s another warning. Ah, let’s bring the doctor in. That’s a hard warning, I’m gonna talk to you one more time, please don’t do that.’ Enforce the rules. Everyone knows what we signed up for.
“People want to say I’m complaining. You try getting in the Octagon, putting in all this hard work and then getting poked in the eye like a Belal Muhammad and losing the opportunity of a lifetime. Getting kneed in the head, not having the chance to finish out the fight to see what the story would have been, like we would never know. But I’m just thankful that I get an opportunity to do it again and I can shut up all the Russian and all the other trolls that are talking s***. I’m laughing to the bank, so I’m happy.”
Do you think Aljamain Sterling can beat Petr Yan in a rematch?