“No Mercy” has wowed fans over the last 12 months, but even some of his biggest supporters have been astounded by what he has achieved so far. Even Yan admits that his emergence at the top of the UFC’s bantamweight division was somewhat unprecedented.
“I didn’t expect it to happen so quickly, but I’m still confident in my abilities and I believe I can get to the title without too many problems,” Yan told Eurobash through a translator.
As for his activity, Yan poked fun at his managers for his ever-appearing bookings since his UFC debut in June 2018.
“I didn’t think [my schedule] was crazy, but maybe my managers are crazy,” he said. “My job is to fight, to make money. I love my job, I love what I do, so that’s it.”
Yan’s UFC 238 bout against Jimmie Rivera will be another opportunity for him to climb the 135-pound ladder and the fact that a fight for the division’s title will be contested on the night—Henry Cejudo meets Marlon Moraes in the main event—only helps his situation.
Although he doubts a win over “El Terror” will result in a championship clash, he thinks Rivera is the right kind of opponent to help him get closer to the belt.
“I’m very happy that they gave me Jimmie because he’s ranked higher than me; he’s a pretty serious opponent. I don’t think a win will get me a title shot, but I’m sure it’s going to push me closer to title contention,” he said.
Rivera goes into the contest on the back of a loss to Aljamain Sterling. Although some feel as though Rivera wasn’t at his best when he met “Funk Master”, Yan disagrees, insisting that it was standard outing for his next opponent.
“I saw his fights against John Dodson and Aljamain Sterling, I don’t think it was a case of him not showing up, that’s always his level and it was also about what his opponents did. Aljamain did a good job of stopping him. I don’t think it was a flawed performance by Jimmie, I just think that’s just his normal level,” he said.
Yan’s relentless pace has been highlighted by some analysts as one of his main advantages going into the clash, but he sees it differently.
“I don’t think speed will be the main factor, the key factors will be my technique and my IQ—the decisions I make in the Octagon,” stated Yan. “I don’t think I need to be fast in this fight, I just need to do the right thing at the right time. That’s how I’m preparing for him, you’ve got to hit him hard at the right times.”
Based on his prediction for the bout, it’s clear that Yan is confident ahead of his biggest UFC challenge to date:
“My prediction is that I’ll beat the shit out of him, then celebrate the victory and ask who’s next.”
Check out the latest episode of Eurobash. The Petr Yan interview begins at 11:45.