In the UFC 267 co-main event, Petr Yan won an exciting fight against Cory Sandhagen for the interim title. As hard as this might be to believe, he apparently did not even put his entire skills on display to win this fight.
Yan was fighting for the first time since losing his title by disqualification against Aljamain Sterling. While this rematch as initially supposed to happen at UFC 267, he instead faced Cory Sandhagen on relatively short notice, ultimately winning a decision in a back and forth fight that saw both men have strong moments.
Speaking on The MMA Hour, the now interim champ explained that the only reason Cory was able to win rounds against him was because he did not give his all in the fight. He said that by the time the bout was over, he likely still had about a third of his energy and skillset that had not been put on display.
“The only reason (Sandhagen) won the first round was because I gave it away. My goal was to pressure and counterpunch a little bit, but I only used like 30% of my abilities in the first two rounds. Then my goal was to add more with each round, but I ended this fight with only 70% of my abilities, and cardio, and conditioning,” Yan said through a translator.
“The first round, I used to learn how he moves, how he attacks, to gain the data. After that, I can use that knowledge against him in later rounds.”
Cory Sandhagen Had 5-Round Cardio
One of the narratives after the fight was that Cory Sandhagen faded as the bout went on, because he accepted the fight on short notice. However Petr Yan does not think this was the case at all.
He explained that Sandhagen was fresh off of a five round fight with TJ Dillashaw that took place around three months earlier, so his cardio should have been good. Instead, Petr says that Cory faded because of the strikes that Petr landed, even if they were not the best shots he could throw.
“You don’t have to take away from my punches to the head and to the body, it had an effect on him. Then, of course with him being under the pressure, it takes away a lot of your energy. But him having the five round fight just recently, I think only helped him. I think he (did that) recently so he had the advantage in this,” Yan said.
“He’s a tough guy, a good opponent. I did land some good shots, but I didn’t land with my best shots so maybe I didn’t do enough to finish him.”
Petr Yan Lives In Aljamain Sterling’s Head
The UFC 267 co-main event was originally expected to be Petr Yan having a rematch with Aljamain Sterling. Unfortunately, Aljo had lingering issues with neck surgery he received, ultimately forcing him out of the contest and setting up the interim title bout.
Petr is hopeful to have the title unification bout in the first quarter of 2022, provided Sterling can make it. That said, if that does not happen, he says that he would be happy beating up anyone the UFC puts in front of him.
“If he will be next, I will beat him up. If it’s not him, I’m not going to be too upset because I’ll just beat somebody else up… Probably February or March would be perfect,” Yan said.
“Of course, I understand that now it’s an even bigger fight and people expected to see it again. I believe I already beat him up once, but once I sign the contract I will be 100% focused to do it again. This time I’m going to hurt him real bad.”
With that said, Yan understands that there is a solid possibility that Sterling will pull out of the fight again. He says that he is pretty confident that will happen, because he lives rent free in Sterling’s head.
“I live inside his head. It’s 1,000% (that Sterling will not fight)… The man who ran away once can always run again. His head is how a chicken’s head is, very small.”
How do you see the rematch between Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling going down? Will Aljo make it to the fight this time around?