The fireworks started early between UFC bantamweight rivals Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan, with the two nearly going at it backstage prior to their fight, which is scheduled for Saturday.
Yan has previously said it was “on sight” with Sterling and he wasn’t joking. The two had to be held back by security and their fight teams in an incident caught on video.
“Hey, tomorrow. My friend, tomorrow,” Sterling could be heard yelling at Yan as he’s led away.
Yan and Sterling have some obvious history, facing off for the title in March of 2021. Sterling captured the belt but it by because Yan was disqualified due to an illegal knee.
Yan went on to defeat Cory Sandhagen at UFC 267 via unanimous decision to capture the interim belt in October. That set up the rematch and Yan has been eager to get revenge.
“If we see his team, we kill [all his] team,” Yan told reporters at the UFC 273 media day. “Right now, not Saturday.”
Sterling Willing to Give Yan Room Number
Sterling responded to Yan, letting the Russian fighter know they were staying in the same hotel.
“I have not seen him, I honestly kinda want to see him just to see what would happen,” Sterling told the media. “I’m calm, cool, collected, so I go off the energy he’s gonna bring. If he thinks it’s gonna be on, I’m ready. I’m more than ready. I’m ready now and I’m ready Saturday. If you really wanna do something, I’m right here. I’m in the same hotel as you — you can find me. If you want, I can give you my room number.”
Yan later clarified his comments, understanding a pre-fight skirmish could put their bout in jeopardy.
“I’m not going to answer all his bulls–t,” Yan said. “If I hit him now, he’s going to call the cops.”
Yan is a Heavy Favorite for Rematch
Yan is a massive favorite for the rematch, coming in at -475 for the rematch. He also has received a vote of confidence from one of his UFC peers in Marlon Vera.
“On paper, I do believe Yan kicks his ass, because Sterling gets tired every time he’s not able to get ahold of you,” Vera recently told The MMA Hour. “It’s like his heart rate gets high pretty quick, he gets a little anxious, and Yan is pretty calm in there. I like that because I feel I do the same thing, where it’s almost like you’re chilling in there — trying to f*** somebody up but chilling instead of just going crazy.”
While he’s the underdog, Sterling is not lacking any confidence heading into the matchup.
“I finally get to shut this motherf–ker up,” Sterling said. “It’s going to be so sweet. I guarantee everybody here is going to be cheering and all of a sudden, they’re going to be back on the bandwagon. So that’s the way the fans are, but I’m just glad the fans are going to tune in.”
The card also features a highly anticipated match between welterweights Khamzat Chimaev and Gilbert Burn, as well as a title matchup between Alexander Volkanovski and Chan Sung Jung, aka the Korean Zombie.