Finally expected to lock horns in a much-anticipated bantamweight title matchup, incumbent division kingpin, Petr ‘No Mercy’ Yan is scheduled to make his first attempted defence of his throne in March at UFC 259 — as he draws rival and longtime number-one contender, Aljamain ‘Funk Master’ Sterling as part of a triple-header of title fights.
Initially tied to a December 12th. UFC 256 date, personal issues ruled promotional perfect puncher, Yan from a date with Uniondale native, Sterling — with a short-notice flyweight title clash of Deiveson ‘Deus da Garra’ Figueiredo and Brandon ‘The Assassin Baby’ Moreno taking headlining honours instead, in what ultimately proved to be a Fight of the Year candidate.
Trading barbs with each other across their respective social media, Yan and Sterling have developed quite an interesting rivalry, as Sterling pushes to dethrone the recently minted titleholder in his first title challenge under the UFC’s banner.
Claiming that title at UFC 251 on ‘Fight Island’ back in July, Dudinka force, Yan bested former featherweight kingpin, Jose Aldo on the feet in a largely competitive matchup, before an eventual fifth-round ground-and-pound stoppage. The win came as Yan’s seventh-straight in the UFC, following his 2018 move from ACB where he also laid claim to bantamweight spoils.
Stamping his status as the number-one contender to Yan’s title, the charismatic, Sterling knocked back then surging contender, Cory Sandhagen at UFC 250 in June at the UFC Apex facility, stopping the Elevation Fight Team staple with a highlight-reel, quickfire rear-naked choke in what proved to be a 135-pound title-eliminator.
Posting to his official Twitter account this afternoon, Yan questioned why Sterling had gone off the radar in terms of his social media engagement, before claiming he’d put the New York native to sleep. Issuing a warning to Sterling’s teammate, the streaking, Merab Dvalishvili — Yan explained how the as of yet unsigned, Denis Lavrentyev would also stop the Georgian on the same card.
“Hey big mouth @funkmasterMMA why you went (sic) quiet recently? Don’t worry I’m not gonna beat you up too hard. I will put you to sleep nicely, you won’t even realize what happened! And your friend Merab (Dvalishvili) can get the same treatment from my bro Denis Lavrentyev on the same night too.“