Petr Yan has scolded the man who controversially took the 135lbs title from him at Saturday’s UFC 259, saying that he is ‘glad’ that Aljamain Sterling seems to have recovered from the controversial fight-ending illegal knee.
Despite being down on the scorecards, New York’s Sterling was awarded the UFC bantamweight title after being deemed unable to continue after absorbing the illegal strike from Yan in the fourth round.
But despite initially appearing to distance himself from the manner in which he ‘won’ the world title, the Russian has hit out at Sterling for celebrating in the wake of the bout.
Top contender Sterling reacted to the title win by throwing the championship belt to the canvas, indicating to many that he didn’t appreciate the circumstances which led to his title reign after Yan was disqualified for landing the crushing blow to Sterling’s temple while he was classified as a ‘downed opponent’.
The unified rules of mixed martial arts state that a fighter is ineligible to throw a knee or kick to the head of an opponent who has either of his knees or hands touching the canvas.
Sterling, who was on both of his knees at the time of the strike, immediately sprawled backwards after the shot landed and despite being given time to recover his senses was pulled from the fight and awarded the win.
UFC boss Dana White indicated that Sterling and Yan will rematch as soon as possible to bring a sense of closure to what has been a months-long feud between the two standout bantamweights – but ahead of that, Yan turned up the temperature of their rivalry by hitting out at Sterling’s post-fight celebrations.
Various photographs issued to social media showed a smiling Sterling holding the bantamweight title over his shoulder in the company of teammates such as Georgia’s Merab Dvalishvili and Al Iaquinta – with Yan sarcastically prodding Sterling in his response to say that he is “glad to see the champ is fine now.“
Sterling has since addressed the controversy of his title win online, writing on Instagram: “I didn’t win the UFC belt the way I envisioned it, but I also didn’t do anything illegal.
“My friends and family flew miles to come see me and asked me to hoist the belt up as a champion, because I carried myself as such.
“If that offends you, then you have no love in your life, and your own issues to sort out. I’m the “champ” but I won’t personally feel 100% validation until I defend this the way I envisioned winning it in the first place!
“Either way, I can’t wait to be cleared. The future is bright and I can’t wait to see what is in store for me.”
“Stay the course. Make adjustments. Life. Moves. On.”