After nearly a year of back and forth teasing on social media and elsewhere that tells of Aljamain Sterling’s and Petr Yan’s words since the “knee”, there is again a new date where the two fighters meet to decide their feud and decide the UFC bantamweight champion.
Sterling, the reigning UFC bantamweight champion who grew up in Roosevelt and Uniondale, will defend his title against Yan, now the interim champion, at UFC 272 on March 5 in Las Vegas, UFC President Dana White told ESPN on Wednesday . The report also said Alexander Volkanovski will defend his featherweight title against Max Holloway that night. (Volkanovski won both previous matches against Holloway.)
Sterling and Yan first fought at UFC 259 on March 6, 2021, where Sterling was awarded the Yan title of a disqualification after the standing Yan delivered an illegal knee to the grounded Sterling’s head in the fourth round. It was the first time in UFC’s nearly 30-year history that a title changed hands at a disqualification. And that has led to lots of verbal attacks on Sterling from Yan, other fighters and fans.
The Serra-Longo-trained Sterling opened the first match by pushing Yan and putting on an aggressive pace. He overworked Yan on volume in the first round, but Yan was able to land a straight right that knocked Sterling down. However, he jumped up again and continued his relentless attack the rest of the round and into the second round.
Yan, who was on a winning streak of 10 matches, was able to assert himself more in the second and third rounds. The judges got the match scored 29-28, 29-28, 28-29 in favor of Yan through the first three rounds. He was probably also on his way to winning the fourth round before the illegal knee, which has contributed to the ugly narrative between the two fighters in the months since.
This will be Sterling’s first title defense (20-3). He was scheduled to meet Yan in October last year, but was not medically approved to fight after undergoing neck surgery to repair an injury that has plagued him for several years. Yan (16-2) fought instead, beating Cory Sandhagen at UFC 267 to win the temporary bantamweight title.