- Date & Location: Saturday March 6 @ UFC Apex in Las Vegas
- Odds: Petr Yan (-145) vs. Aljamain Sterling (+115) via Bovada
- Prediction: Yan via decision
On Saturday, March 6, the UFC presents a packed fight card. UFC 259, which takes place at UFC Apex in Las Vegas, features three title fights at the top of the card. In the main event of the ESPN+ streaming pay-per-view event, UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya moves up to light heavyweight to challenge Jan Blachowicz for his 205-pound title belt. In the co-headliner, two-division women’s champion Amanda Nunes puts her featherweight title on the line against Megan Anderson. Before those two title bouts, bantamweight champion Petr Yan tangles with No. 1 ranked 135-pound contender Aljamain Sterling.
The 28-year-old Yan won the vacant bantamweight crown in July with a dominant performance over former featherweight champ Jose Aldo. Yan scored a fifth-round TKO win in that contest. Yan’s overall record is 15-1 and he is unbeaten in the UFC. The Russian athlete is 7-0 with the promotion. He joined the UFC in 2018.
Long Island’s Sterling earned his UFC title shot with five straight wins. He is coming off a first-round submission victory over Cory Sandhagen. Sterling is 19-3 overall. He joined the UFC in 2013. At the time, the 31-year-old was 8-0. Sterling’s most recent loss was a knockout defeat at the hands of Marlon Moraes. Before that, Sterling’s other UFC losses were both split-decision setbacks.
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YAN vs. STERLING PREDICTION & PICK
Expect a high output striking battle between these two with an occasional takedown attempt sprinkled in. Both fighters are active with their striking and good with their defense. While Yan pushes at a higher pace than Sterling, he also gets hit more. However, those stats are a little misleading as Sterling gets hit harder because his push-forward striking style allows his opponent to time him and land counter strikes. Yan can also strike from orthodox and southpaw. That gives him a few more options than Sterling and it’s those options and the ability to counter Sterling when he presses that should allow Yan to score more points with the judges.
Prediction: Yan -140 via BetOnline
BETTING VALUE WITH YAN
Yan takes his time before he fully commits to an opponent, so that could give Sterling a chance to surprise him with an unorthodox technique in the early going, but I don’t see that happening as Yan is a fundamentally strong fighter and I don’t think Sterling’s team will want him to put himself out of position for a nasty counter. With the slow start, Yan picks up steam in the later rounds. Against Aldo, Yan’s significant strike landing percentage increased through the final three rounds, which could cause problems for Sterling, who has never fought past the third round in the UFC.
My thinking on this fight is that Yan’s boxing and ability to create offense no matter the situation or location of the fight will serve him well and he’ll win this one by decision. If you feel strongly about Yan’s ability to finish fights, a bet on a knockout could pay off, but be aware that Sterling’s only knockout loss came when he put himself in a dangerous position while shooting for a takedown.
WHO HAS THE EDGE?
I think this comes down to boxing and Yan has the edge in that department. He can throw from orthodox and southpaw and if he gets his opponent to the mat, he is relentless in his ground striking, something we saw in the Aldo wins. Sterling is a live dog in this matchup and he will make things interesting, but I just don’t think he has the all-around game to defeat Yan. I don’t think this will be a blowout, but I do think Yan is the better overall fighter and that will make a difference in this five-round title fight.
FIGHT STATS: YAN vs. STERLING
|Petr Yan||Category||Aljamain Sterlin|
|6.32||Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute||4.82|
|3.25||Significant Strikes Absorbed Per Minute||1.94|
|1.46||Takedown Average Per 15 Minutes||1.89|
|0.20||Submission Average Per 15 Minutes||1.00|
WHAT’S AT STAKE
This is Yan’s first attempted title defense. Only one UFC bantamweight champion has failed to defend the title at least once and that was Cody Garbrandt. Yan does not want to be the second fighter in that group.
Sterling has been in line for a title shot for quite a while and it seemed as if the UFC repeatedly overlooked him in favor of a different fighter. It took Sterling so long to get his title shot, for whatever reason, that it’s not out of line to think he’ll have a long way back to another title fight should he lose to Yan.
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