With six wins in as many outings under the promotional banner, many believe that “No Mercy” should be in next in line for a crack at the bantamweight crown. Although a win over former title contender Marlon Moraes will likely force the Russian into the championship stakes, Yan doesn’t understand why the promotion has opted for Cruz, who hasn’t competed since his title loss to Cody Garbrandt in 2016.
“To be honest, moments like this in UFC kind of upset me,” Yan told MMA Fighting’s Eurobash podcast. “He didn’t fight for three years and now he’s getting a title shot? It kind of upsets me and it’s a big hit for UFC reputation, in my opinion.”
Yan pondered why he was not given the nod by the UFC when it became apparent that Aldo would not be able to leave Brazil to compete in the event.
“Maybe it’s because I’m not in America that I wasn’t granted this title shot, or maybe it’s because I’m not American they didn’t give me this opportunity. Maybe it’s because they’re afraid of me and they don’t want to give the chance to win another title to a Russian fighter, maybe they don’t want two Russian champions,” he said.
“I don’t think that [UFC’s] main goal, but to me it’s kind of unclear why they gave it to Cruz. I don’t think, in my opinion, he’s going to bring a lot of pay-per-views buys. I don’t know why, it’s kind of a difficult question for me.”
“I think there are more active and deserving fighters that could fight for the belt and I don’t understand why they’d give it to a guy that’s been so inactive for so long,” he added.
Despite the situation, Yan maintains that he has not lost respect for Cejudo, but underlined his confusion as to why the UFC has agreed with the match-ups that the champion has suggested.
“I can’t say I lost respect for [Cejudo]. I know that he’s playing his game, he’s doing his part, but it’s weird that the UFC also agrees with him – that’s kind of weird.”
Check out Petr Yan’s latest appearance on Eurobash. It begins at 11:30.