UFC 259’s bantamweight title fight last weekend had an anti-climactic ending as an illegal knee was shot from the sights of defending champ Petr Yan. The move put an end to the grounded Aljamain Sterling’s night. The fight ender would result in a disqualification victory for Sterling, which caused much controversy on the MMA scene.
What Sparked The Controversy?
Many MMA fans and fighters theorized that Sterling used the illegal action as an ‘easy way out’ of the diminishing performance he was having with Yan. Former champs Henry Cejudo and TJ Dillashaw would call out the new champion on his ‘academy award winning performance’.
He got concussed and he couldn't fight but he could conduct a full ass interview and tweet after… this is why an Olympic gold medal is greatest accomplishment an athlete could do! But hey @funkmasterMMA at least you know you could make it Hollywood. And I’m not evening hating pic.twitter.com/YNUUMRfbvs
— Henry Cejudo (@HenryCejudo) March 7, 2021
And the Oscar goes to @FakeMaster for Best Actor in a Title Fight and Petr Yan needs a crash course in the rules of the sport he was once champion in. Hey Petr now you’re a cheater too, bitch.
— TJ Dillashaw (@TJDillashaw) March 7, 2021
Sterling vs Yan set a very interesting precedent late into the night of UFC 259. This was the first case where a challenger became a UFC champion through a disqualification. Going off that, it is clear to see why so many people are judging Sterling and his validity as a UFC champion.
After the fight, Sterling would drop the belt and leave it inside the Octagon as he felt he didn’t earn it. However, the post-fight party he had with his family and friends painted a different picture, leaving more room for critics to come along.
Along with Sterling showcasing the gold, the new champ would shift his focus from running it back with Yan to a potential fight against Henry Cejudo.
Aljamain Sterling offers to fight a former bantamweight champion, but it's not Petr Yan 👀
(via @funkmasterMMA) pic.twitter.com/hfrODqhJRQ
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) March 8, 2021
Petr Yan apologized to Sterling for the illegal knee he threw, but after seeing some of these post-fight charades, Yan stopped playing ‘Mr. Nice Guy.’ Aljo seemingly shifted his focus away from the rubber match, which didn’t rub the Russian the right way.
“Funk Master” has verbally agreed to fight Yan, in order to validate his title. But, Yan isn’t so sure he wants to fight him again as he was visibly fading in the fight.
“One time he says one thing, different time he says different thing.” Yan’s translator told Ariel Helwani. Then, the staredown with Cejudo. Everything tells me he doesn’t want to fight me again. He understands he lost this fight, he understand it’s going to happen again. I feel like he doesn’t want to fight me again.”
“No Mercy” needs no time. The former champion looks to gain back his gold as quick as possible. Ideally, he is ready to get back in there as soon as April.
“UFC already reached out to me and asked when I’m ready to fight again.” Yan added. “I already told them I’m ready, one month, two months time. Whenever they want to do it. Like I said I before, I was punished already for what I did. I already lost the belt and the PPV points and whatever comes with becoming a champion.”
“Everything happened because the referee told the commission that it was intentional. But, I didn’t throw it intentional. Now, the rematch is the only logic thing. The rematch has to happen next.”
What about Triple C?
The main focus for the Siberian striker is Aljamain Sterling. However, Cejudo is of interest to him in the future, just not now.
“As you remember, when I became [the] #1 contender for the belt is the time when Cejudo retired. And now, the first day when I lost the belt, Cejudo started talking about coming back. He doesn’t want to fight me. For me, now the goal is to get the rematch and Cejudo can be next after that.”