A little over a year ago, we saw Izzy Adesanya temporarily move up to Light Heavyweight in an attempt to take the belt from then-champion Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259.
While that was slated to be the main talking point of the evening, it was actually the Bantamweight championship fight between Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling that remains a controversial topic.
Petr Yan was the reigning champ heading into that bout, and Aljamain Sterling, better known as Aljo, was a mouthy contender that steadily climbed the division, boasting wins over notable opponents such as Cory Sandhagen and Pedro Munhoz. Yan would be his toughest challenge by far, as his resume was even more impressive; dominant wins over foes the likes of Urijah Faber, José Aldo, Jimmie Rivera, John Dodson – the list goes on.
Each man brought a unique skill set into their meeting. Yan is a prolific boxer and presents some of the best striking in the bantamweight division, but is also well rounded enough to make a statement on the ground. Aljo is certainly known for his grappling, having a nice college wrestling career and finishes by way of submission throughout his UFC career. The odds going into their first meeting were near even, with Aljo as a slight underdog at +105.
So What Happened?
Almost immediately after the fight began, it was clear Aljamain Sterling was no match for Petr Yan. Yan quickly outclassed Aljo in both striking and grappling – victory would soon be his. Aljo was gassed and badly injured, and in a quick lull, while he was technically downed, Yan kneed him in the head- illegally. Aljo was “unable” to continue fighting, and due to the illegal strike and disqualification of Yan, was awarded the bantamweight championship belt.
Now, over a year later, Aljo is the reigning champ, while Yan is the challenger. Yan has since beaten Cory Sandhagen for the interim belt as Aljo hasn’t fought since their bout; he’s apparently had a nagging neck injury since his college years. After becoming champ Aljo got surgery on it. Going into this fight we see an Aljamain Sterling with a surgically repaired neck, potentially better cardio, and the memory of Yan kicking his ass. The odds are a reflection of the last fight- Aljamain Sterling is a heavy underdog currently sitting at +360 odds.
Who do you think is going to win? The guy who we know in Yan, or the unknown in a healthy Aljo? Let me know on Twitter @pickinKeith.
For betting analysis watch Pickin’ Winners UFC 273 Post Weigh Ins Chat.
& Join the Men Of Order team as they go live to discuss UFC 273 at 4:30 PM today on the Men Of Order Youtube Channel.