Almost a week after the unfortunate ending of Petr Yan vs Aljamain Sterling resulting in a disqualification win for Sterling, MMA personality Joe Rogan would dive into deep detail about the finish of the fight.
Rogan was working the desk at UFC 259 when Yan put an end to Sterling’s night, kneeing his head off while Sterling was clearly grounded. The referee Mark Smith would warn Yan before he fired the illegal strike, however, the shot would go off nevertheless.
After the fight, Rogan would cover the fight on his world-famous podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience.
Legal Or Illegal?
“Here’s the thing.” Rogan said. “If you have your feet down, but one hand down you’re not grounded. If you have to, maybe Nevada still uses a hybrid version of the new mixed martial arts rules. It used to be anytime you had a hand down at all, you were a grounded opponent and then they switched it to, if you have two hands down, you’re a grounded opponent. But if you have a knee down, you’re a grounded opponent. So he had a knee and two hands up. So he was, he was f*cking grounded. I mean, it was like, there was no question about it.
He was grounded, but I think maybe he thought he was coming up and peeled or tried to catch him, catch him as he was coming up. But it was 100% illegal.”
“[Sterling’s] got one hand down. Yeah. He’s got one hand. No, it doesn’t have both of his hands. So maybe that’s what he thought. Maybe it was because the knee was down in both hands were up. He thought he wasn’t grounded. Yeah, maybe that’s why he was confused, but it’s 100% illegal for both of them.”
“If you, you hear your coach yelling, hit him, even I’m like thinking like, okay, is that grounded or is not grounded? I know it’s not, I know it’s grounded because this has come up before, because it used to be that when your hands were down, then it was grounded. But then big John McCarthy explained to me, no, no, no. Anything other than the surface of your feet on your legs, like, so your knee, if your knee is down, that means you’re a grounded opponent.”
Along with Rogan covering the legality of the fight-ender and whether the call was the right one, Rogan would also respond to the criticism of fans. ONE Championship, an Asian MMA promotion, allows fighters to strike grounded opponents with kicks and knees to the head. So why not in the UFC? The long-time commentator covers the long-time issue.
Should The UFC Change Their Rules?
“There’s other folks that also think, well, why isn’t that illegal technique? Well, how could we go punch them in the face again, Nima in the face. This is stupid. Like, why can’t you get, well, how come you can’t kick them in the face? How come when a guy’s lying on his back, he can kick you in the face, but you can’t kick him in the face. Like that seems stupid too.”
“From 2018 on, Nevada has a hybrid version.” Rogan added. “It didn’t adopt a new ground rule, I think, unless they’ve changed it since then. Yeah. I think this is to be considered grounded. This is a more technical piece. The new rules pertains to that of a grounded opponent, which States a fighter must have both of their hands down on the ground, whether it be palms or FIS for them to be considered grounded, unless a knee or anything other than the soul’s kicks or knee strikes to the head of a grounded striker or fighter rather, therefore is illegal. However, the Nevada state athletic commission will not be adopting this of the new rules. And we’re stick with the old definition for a grounded fighter, which means anything but the soles of the feet. That’s why it’s confusing.
“So the grounded opponent thing, the fighter must have both their hands down on the ground. That’s what it used to be. Whether it be palms or fist for them to be considered grounded unless a knee or other than the soles of the feet are down as well. So either way he was grounded because there was a knee down.”
Despite the knee being driven intentionally to knock out and hurt Sterling, Rogan felt sympathy for both Yan and Sterling.
“That’s got to suck for him of like he was winning the fight too.” Rogan stated. “That’s what sucked. Um, Petr Yan was, uh, he, it looked like he was starting to gain control of the fight. It was a good fight though, really good fight. I’m sure they’re going to have a rematch and the rematch will be super hyped up, but [Yan] had dropped Aljamain and he had taken him down and tripped him, slammed him to the ground a few times. It looked like he was in control of exchanges, but still very good fight.”