Petr Yan is one of the highest profile Russians in the UFC. Yan is currently former UFC Bantamweight champion and current interim UFC bantamweight champion all thanks to the unfortunate knee he threw at Aljamain’s Sterling while picking him apart back in March of 2021.
But it looks like the wait is finally over – Sterling will have to face the music. Thanks to the Russian invasion of Ukraine everyone was nervous about the prospect of this title bout falling apart. The bout was meant to happen much sooner however Sterling underwent a neck surgery for an issue that has been bugging him since his college wrestling days and was unable to pass medical checks. The bout was also pushed back once again in January. It was initially scheduled for March 5th but it was pushed back for UFC 273 on April 9th.
While Yan often resorts to unsavory tactics that can be best described as cheating, Sterling has fallen in the eyes of the audience thanks to his unfortunate reaction to the illegal knee – which led Sterling to become the first ever UFC champion by way of disqualification.
To UFC’s credit, they appear to have wisened up to Yan’s favorite tactics which is perhaps why harsh on cheating referee Jason Herzog oversaw his interim title bout against Cory Sandhagen.
Yan also found himself at the center of controversy thanks to his country of origin – Russia. Despite denouncing war publicly on social media, Yan’s cornermen were denied their visas. This led to the infamous back and forth with former champion Henry Cejudo – and securing a cornerman in UFC’s bantamweight up and comer Sean O’Malley.
‘No to war’, Yan’s social media posting said.
O’Malley was spotted learning how to say ‘Illegal knee’ in Russian subsequently. During a recent episode of BroMalley he clarified:
“I shot him [Yan] a little message on Insta [gram] and [he tweeted it]. It’s funny… I’ll beat his ass in the back while he’s warming up,” O’Malley joked. “This is for Ukraine!”
“If he hit me up, sure [I’ll corner him]… I don’t know [if he’s gonna pick Henry Cejudo], he’ll probably pick Khabib [Nurmagomedov]. I wonder if Khabib would [do it]. That’d be tough. Big fight, huge fight, title fight and your three main guys can’t be there. That’s tough.”
Despite Yan’s visa being sorted many fans feared that Yan wouldn’t make it to his title bout but their fears can be put to rest today as the interim champion has touched down in US and released a playful tweet aimed at his opponent.
Just landed in USA, Alja’s prayers wasn’t answered ??
— Petr “No Mercy” Yan (@PetrYanUFC) March 27, 2022
Recently a group of fans inferred that even the ringside physician may have been skeptical about the voracity of Sterling’s concussion claims.