Aljamain Sterling

Sterling says UFC’s push for Yan is “a slap in the face”

Aljamain Sterling is disrespected by the UFC’s decision to push Petr Yan against Jose Aldo for the vacant UFC bantamweight title.

Sterling is in a fight of his own, taking on Cory Sandhagen at UFC 250 this Saturday, June 6. The 30-year-old said he and Sandhagen made better cases for a title shot than Yan in an interview with ESPN’s Ariel Helwani.

“For them to be giving [Petr Yan] this kind of a push, it’s really… a slap in the face, maybe just disrespectful to the entire division and the body of work that we’re putting in,” Sterling said to Helwani.

“Sandhagen’s resume is better than Petr Yan’s. Honestly, he beat [Raphael] Assuncao, he beat [John] Lineker. Who did Petr Yan beat? The one common opponent that we have is Jimmie Rivera and I think I beat him way more definitively than he did and he’s the one getting the push.”

Making a case

UFC President Dana White announced the championship bout to ESPN on May 27. Since former champion Henry Cejudo announced his retirement at UFC 249 on May 9, White pegged Yan as one half of the title fight. 

White told the media during the UFC 249 post-fight press conference, “It’s Petr Yan and somebody.”

Yan is unbeaten in nine-straight fights and rattled off six-consecutive wins inside the octagon. The 27-year-old most recently knocked out Urijah Faber with a head kick at UFC 245 in December 2019. 

He holds decision victories over Jimmie Rivera, John Dodson and Jin Soo Son. Yan also put away Douglas Andrade and Teruto Ishihara earlier in his UFC career. Only Rivera and Dodson currently rank in the top 15 of the UFC bantamweight division. 

Sterling is riding a four-fight unbeaten streak with three of those victories being over top 15 fighters. He most recently defeated Pedro Munhoz by unanimous decision at UFC 238 in June 2019. He also earned a unanimous decision win against Jimmie Rivera at UFC on ESPN 1 February 2019. 

Sandhagen won seven-straight bouts and is undefeated inside the octagon. He holds one victory over a currently ranked opponent, defeating Assuncao by unanimous decision at UFC 241 in August 2019. Sandhagen also defeated Lineker via split decision at UFC on ESPN+8 in April 2019. 

The final say

There is no location or date set for Yan and Aldo. That bout makes little sense to Sterling, but “Funk Master” is looking to make his case for the strap stronger this weekend.

“At the end of the day we can only control what we can do, which is go out there, perform and have a great fight,” Sterling said. “I think I go out there and take care of Cory Sandhagen. I should be the next guy in line.”

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