One of as many as three UFC title fights, which will take place this coming weekend at the UFC 259 event, brings a match between Peter Yan and Alyamain Sterling for the bantamweight belt. In this way, the Russian will defend the title for the first time, which he reached in a somewhat unusual way.
Namely, until winning it, he did not defeat any fighter at that time placed within the first five fighters of the challenger scale. Just above is what many fans respect him for, that is, they do not recognize him as a true champion.
Luckily for him, he will have a chance to correct this right now, in a fight against a guy who actually shares the aforementioned attitude. Sterling talks about it openly. "He has to gain legitimacy, and he will do that if he beats me.
I don't see anyone else through whom he can do that. I fought almost all the best fighters and defeated most of them, just to get to this position. This will be my 14th UFC fight and I'm finally attacking the title."
"He had seven UFC fights and his opponents are nowhere near that caliber. He only fought Jimmie Rivera and we can say Jose Aldo. Aldo is a dangerous guy but a title fight against a guy who in the division has only one appearance and that defeat was pointless."
"Cory Sandhagen and I were better ranked than him and we had a better status. Cory beat Assuncao and I beat Pedro Munhoz, who had previously knocked out former champion Garbrandt, " Sterling said in an interview for MMA Fighting.
Sterling was already supposed to have his chance in December last year, but the Russian then canceled the fight for no apparent reason. Aljamain eventually had to accept this, although it is not clear to him what actually happened.
"Only Petr Yan knows why he really withdrew from the fight. I even texted him that the UFC had told me he was injured, and he was posting training footage at the same time. He just told me he wanted to fight me. I hope so we will do it this time, there is no escape, "he said, adding something more about Yan, but with the inevitable respect for his qualities: "I know he's a bad guy, a great fighter.
But on the way to what he has become, he has beaten the old ones, he still doesn't have a victory over the young lion. I think he's aware of that and that's actually an extra motivation for him before this fight."